Since he captained the England Lions last summer, Lewis Gregory has received a Test call-up and made his senior team debut in the IT20 series win in New Zealand before Christmas.
Having missed out on selection for the white-ball leg of England’s tour of South Africa this winter, Gregory is back leading the Lions for the eight-game tour of Australia, which starts on February 1.
The Somerset all-rounder played in all five IT20s in New Zealand but was left frustrated by his personal contribution. Batting at seven, Gregory faced 19 balls across three innings, scoring 21 runs. And while he took a wicket with his first ball in international cricket, he bowled just 23 more deliveries across two matches.
“It was amazing to receive my first cap and to play international cricket – it’s something I’ve been striving towards for a long time,” he said. “It was brilliant to get a series win but on a personal note it was a frustrating trip.
“It’s up to me to go away and keep developing to keep knocking on the door. It was an amazing experience that I savoured for the five weeks we were away and hopefully there will be more to come.”
The chance to impress the selectors again will come in Australia with the Lions, where Gregory will captain both white and red-ball teams under the coaching of Richard Dawson.
At a training camp in Loughborough before the limited-overs squad departed, Gregory and the rest of the tourists were shown the pretty daunting statistics of England’s win-rate in recent Ashes series.
One of the goals of this Lions tour is to prepare future England players for the conditions they’ll face should they win selection for future senior tours Down Under to help reverse the losing trend.
“Traditionally over the last 20 years, England teams going to Australia haven’t done very well,” Gregory added. “I think this is a massive opportunity, with the Ashes in two years’ time, for the guys to put their hands up to go out and perform in those conditions.
“Lions cricket is part of that development, to give the guys experience of playing in different conditions and hopefully we’ll learn quick enough to win games. We’re going there to win every game we play and I think there’s the talent and experience in the dressing room to do that.
“The Lions programme over the last few years has done well in getting players experience in conditions that the England team will be playing in during the following winters. I think a lot of our guys will have played in Australia in some form, mostly in club cricket. It’s an opportunity for people to put their hands up [for selection] and you never know where it will take you.”
The Lions start the tour with three 50-over matches against Cricket Australia XIs, starting on February 1, before two further one-dayers against New South Wales.
A four-day match against CA XI at Hobart is followed by a day/night first class match against Australia A at the iconic MCG. The tour concludes with a four-day match against New South Wales in