Lions in the spotlight - Parsons
Performance director David Parsons is keen for his England Lions charges to show themselves off in the best possible light as they embark on a five-week trip to New Zealand.
Most of the squad first got together at the beginning of November, under the guise of the England Performance Programme, and have been training regularly at Loughborough in the lead-up to the tour.
“We have spent a lot of time training,” Parsons told ecb.co.uk. “We have had a really good few weeks preparation at the Performance Centre since mid-January.
“Now I think most of the squad are excited to be going out there with the sun on their backs and playing cricket.
“And to put into practice some of those things they have been learning over the last three to four months, to test themselves out against some quality opposition.
“Hopefully one or two will put themselves in the frame for the opportunity to be selected in the senior squad some time in the future.”
Preparing players for international cricket, and seeing which of them have both the ability and temperament to succeed is the main aim of the performance programme and England Lions set-up, according to Parsons.
“It is very much about us identifying which players can go on and perform at high levels for England in the future,” he confirmed.
“Obviously we, as a Lions team, will be going out to win every game of cricket we play.
"But in the background, of course, players know they are being looked at and being tested for their potential to perform at higher levels for England.”
Parsons himself will take on the post of head coach for the trip, alongside Kevin Shine (bowling coach) and Dene Hills (batting coach).
“My role, in simple terms, is to prepare the way for players to go out, cross that white line and perform to the best of their ability,” he said.
“Ultimately that is their responsibility, but my role and the role of the support team around me, is to ensure they are in the best possible shape to perform.”
England Lions are set to play two Test matches, two one-day games and a Twenty20 match against their New Zealand counterparts, in what Parsons described as a “tight schedule”.
“Once we get over the initial five or six days of primarily acclimatisation, recovering from the flight, getting ourselves ready to perform, there is not much time for rest and recovery,” he admitted.
“We have got the two two-day warm-up games and then we are into the main competitive programme. I guess in an ideal world we would have had slightly more space in between the games.
“But actually, it makes it exciting. We have done a lot of training and preparing over the last few months - they have now got an opportunity to put all those things into practice.”