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Key factors in England call-ups

England Lions
Amjad Khan

The England Lions seamers touring New Zealand will hope to emulate Amjad Khan

England Lions have been urged to take inspiration from the success of Amjad Khan and Ravi Bopara on their promotion to the senior tour of the West Indies.

Until earlier this week, Kent seamer Khan and Essex all-rounder Bopara were two of the most prominent members of the Lions squad currently touring New Zealand, where they will play two Tests, a Twenty20 match and two one-day games against their Kiwi counterparts.

But the hip injury to England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff prompted the selectors to call upon their reserves and Khan responded by claiming 5-79 in the two-day warm-up match in Barbados, while Bopara hit an unbeaten 124.

Worcestershire wicketkeeper Steven Davies has also begun his journey to join up with the senior squad as cover following Matt Prior’s decision to return home following the birth of his son. Kent seamer Robbie Joseph has been flown out to New Zealand.

“It’s quite a unique side because you’re first agenda is to try and get out of the team, almost,” admitted Lions captain Rob Key.

“It’s been quite interesting because the squad has changed pretty rapidly.

“We’ve seen Amjad and Ravi go almost as soon as they came. Steve Davies has also gone and Robbie Joseph has joined up with us so it’s all pretty fluid at the moment, but the ultimate goal for everyone here as players is to play for England - you want to be playing so well that you end up getting picked for England.”

The Lions, who struggled for breakthroughs in their opening two-day warm-up match against New Zealand’s emerging players, face the same opposition in another two-day game tomorrow in their last match before the start of the Test series in Queenstown on March 1.

Key admitted: “If it was an out-and-out tour where the sole purpose was to win the games it would be pretty tough being a captain or a coach because we’re losing players pretty regularly at the minute so our plans have to change.

“What it has done has made the whole thing a lot more realistic. You sit down and have all these meetings and talk about how close the players are to the next England team but it’s only when you see people go off and join the senior tour that you realise how close you are.

“It’s a massive encouragement for all the lads.

“They have seen how quickly it can happen. Amjad Khan has left here, got a five-for and put himself in with a chance of playing for England in a Test series we were watching on television just a few days ago.”

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