Taylor keen to learn from the best
Emerging batsman James Taylor is thrilled at the prospect of working with some of England’s senior players in the United Arab Emirates next month.
The Leicestershire right-hander, who turned 20 on Wednesday, received a late birthday present on Sunday with his inclusion in the England Lions squad to tour the UAE.
Also in the 15-man party, who are due to play the senior England side, Pakistan A and the hosts in limited-overs matches, are the likes of Ian Bell, Sajid Mahmood, and Adil Rashid.
Taylor, who was part of the England Performance Programme in South Africa before Christmas, said: "I'm delighted to get the call-up. I'm really pleased with being selected. To be a step closer to the full England team is great.
"There are a lot of senior players on the tour, so it will be great to play alongside them and learn from them and to play against some top-quality opposition.
"In a way it is like the next step on the ladder, having been on the EPP and now on a Lions tour. It is the next step on and I am really excited and looking forward to it.
"I know a few of the players from the EPP and will know the majority through the county game too. That will help me to settle in.
"It will be particularly good to test myself in the shorter formats of the game. Pakistan A are a top side and they will have an exciting team.
"And, if I could get into the team and have the opportunity to play against the full England side, that would be a massive test and challenge to play against the best.
"The whole tour will be hard work and good fun and I can't wait for it to come around."
The Lions call-up is a nice progression from the EPP, where Taylor got the chance to work with high-class coaches.
He also got to observe at first hand how the England players go about preparation for a Test match, which was a great experience for the Leicestershire prospect.
"We also had a day where we got to watch the full England side train so to watch Kevin Pietersen and other senior batters was a great experience.
"It (the EPP) was amazing. It was high-quality training at high-quality facilities with great coaches. The intensity was really good.
"I worked really well with batting coach Dene Hills and I also enjoyed working with Graham Gooch. It was all a great experience.
"We were working in different conditions with the heat and on different pitches and faced some really good net bowlers too. It was a good challenge.
"I got to work on the longer format of the game so it will be now to good to test myself in the shorter formats of the game on the Lions tour."
Taylor has followed the series between South Africa and England with keen interest.
Although he was not able to see any of the compelling action while he was in the country, he has watched plenty on television since arriving back in the UK and is rooting for the side to win the series.
"We didn't get to see any games while we were out there because we flew back around the time the series began but I have been following it on the television," he added.
"The England side are going great guns at the moment and it is good to see. Hopefully they will be able to get a positive result in Johannesburg and win the series."