Parsons plans ahead
ECB performance director David Parsons claims England Lions’ tour of India can only benefit the senior side in years to come.
The Lions squad, made up of players pushing for an England call-up, fly out to Mumbai later this month to compete in the Duleep Trophy, India’s premier first-class competition.
England coach Peter Moores is keen for English players to sample the unique conditions on the sub-continent, which are widely acknowledged as the toughest in the world.
The Test side struggled during the 1-0 series defeat in Sri Lanka late last year, but Parsons is confident the experience the Lions will gain during their month-long tour will stand them in good stead if and when they make the step up to international level.
“During the tour of Sri Lanka I asked Peter where would he want the players to go - where is the place to tour that we find most difficult,” Parsons told ecb.co.uk.
“He suggested the sub-continent because the conditions are so different from those at home, so in that respect India is a really good place to go to test out the squad.
“We know it’s going to be tough cricket against a lot of very good players, so it will benefit them - now and if they ever tour with the England team.”
The Duleep Trophy is considered the best domestic competition in India, a zonal tournament featuring the best players from the Ranji Trophy.
Parsons revealed competitive cricket was a crucial requirement for a Lions party that will provide back-up to the senior squad during their one-day and Test series in New Zealand.
“We try to get them playing competitive cricket, so we’ve got guys ready to go if needed and we can support the team,” he added.
“It means they can get some match time in case they’re needed by the senior England side, and they don’t go into it not having played any cricket since September.
“Before Christmas we had the Performance Programme in India, when you gear the needs of the programme around the individual needs of the player and players can work on their game.
“And after Christmas we like to get the players playing competitive cricket. We’re beginning to get a pretty decent model now, which seems to be working.”
England Lions competed in the Duleep Trophy four years ago in their former guise as England A, losing both games on a tour that brought just one victory in eight matches in total.
Parsons is under no illusions as to the size of the task facing a 16-strong squad - containing Monty Panesar and possibly Andrew Flintoff that flies out on January 23.
“The competition is like us having a competition between the north, south, east and west in England, so it’s even better than first-class cricket,” he said.
“Every year they have guest teams. We went in 2004 under Rod Marsh and were beaten quite convincingly in most games.
“This year we’re in a strong group and we know we’ll be up against some very good teams. It will be tough cricket.”