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Hameed and Jennings to open for England Lions in Sri Lanka

Haseeb Hameed is back, and will open the batting with Keaton Jennings for England Lions this weekend.

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Hameed and Jennings to open for England Lions in Sri Lanka

Haseeb Hameed takes a break during England training

Haseeb Hameed will make his England Lions debut in Sri Lanka this weekend – more than two months after his exciting introduction to Test cricket was cut short by a broken finger.

The Lancashire opener, who will also be beginning his post-teenage career after turning 20 last month, has now recovered from the injury he sustained in Mohali in late November – when he defied the pain to hit an unbeaten 59 in the second innings, giving him 219 runs at a healthy average of almost 44 in his first, brief taste of the international game.

Haseeb Hameed is presented with his Test cap by Michael Atherton

Haseeb Hameed is presented with his Test cap by Michael Atherton

Hameed is set to open for the first time with Keaton Jennings, who took his place as Alastair Cook’s opening partner for the remaining two Tests of the series in India – and will also be making his first-class debut for the Lions, although the tall Durham left-hander did lead the team in two List A matches against the United Arab Emirates before his senior call-up last November. 

“It’s an exciting squad to be part of, and I’m looking forward to getting back out there,” said Hameed, who started hitting balls seriously again at the Lions pre-tour camp at the National Performance Centre in Loughborough last month.

“It’s pretty unusual I guess to make your Test debut before your Lions debut. But Lions cricket is designed to bridge the gap between the county game and internationals, and I’m expecting first-class cricket against Sri Lanka A to be highly challenging.”

Haseeb Hameed

“It’s pretty unusual I guess to make your Test debut before your Lions debut. But Lions cricket is designed to bridge the gap between the county game and internationals, and I’m expecting first-class cricket against Sri Lanka A to be highly challenging.”

Hameed may have leapfrogged the Lions as a result of his stunning breakthrough summer with Lancashire in 2016, but he is no stranger to England cricket’s International Pathway – nor to the Lions coach Andy Flower.

“I captained the England Under-17s to Sri Lanka in 2014 which was a really good experience, and later that year I did a bit of work with Andy when I went up to the Under-19s for a one-day series against South Africa,” he explained – a series which Hameed started with scores of 97, 97 and 125, in an England side also including current Lions team-mates Tom Alsop and Joe Clarke.

“Even in that brief period I enjoyed the chance to pick his brains. I’ve got a lot longer with him out in Sri Lanka. Obviously he’s worked a lot at the highest level, and he was a very successful player himself especially out in the sub-continent - he knows the game inside out. Hopefully I can gain a bit of his knowledge.”

High backlift and good balance - traits Hameed displayed during his England Under-17 days

High backlift and good balance - traits Hameed displayed during his England Under-17 days

The three-day match against a Sri Lankan Board President’s XI in Moratuwa, which starts on Sunday, is the Lions’ only game before two four-day fixtures against Sri Lanka A in Kandy and Dambulla. That is followed by a five-match one-day series, but Hameed has only been selected for the red-ball section of the tour. 

The Lions warm-up game will not have first-class status to allow Flower to give some time in the middle to all 15 members of the squad, with the probable exception of Surrey wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, who is struggling with a back injury.

Clarke, who is the back-up wicketkeeper to Foakes in the squad, will have a late fitness test on a wrist problem – leaving Alsop, the Hampshire batsman who made such a positive impression in the first part of the Lions’ winter programme in the UAE before Christmas, on stand-by to demonstrate a little-known extra string to his bow.

England Lions squads

For red-ball section, including four-day matches v Sri Lanka A

K Jennings (Durham, capt)

H Hameed (Lancashire)

N Gubbins (Middlesex)

T Alsop (Hampshire)

T Westley (Essex)

J Clarke (Worcestershire)

L Livingstone (Lancashire)

B Foakes (Surrey)

S Curran (Surrey)

T Curran (Surrey)

T Roland-Jones (Middlesex)

T Helm (Middlesex)

C Overton (Somerset)

O Rayner (Middlesex)

J Leach (Somerset).

For 50-over series v Sri Lanka A 

K Jennings (Durham, capt)

D Bell-Drummond (Kent)

T Alsop (Hampshire)

B Duckett (Northamptonshire)

J Clarke (Worcestershire)

L Livingstone (Lancashire)

B Foakes (Surrey)

S Curran (Surrey)

T Curran (Surrey)

C Overton (Somerset)

T Helm (Middlesex)

J Fuller (Middlesex)

O Rayner (Middlesex)

J Poysden (Warwickshire)

G White (Northamptonshire)

M Wood (Durham)

Schedule

Sri Lanka A v England Lions, four-day matches

Feb 12-14: v Board President’s XI (Moratuwa)

Feb 17-20: v Sri Lanka A (Pallekele)

Feb 24-27: v Sri Lanka A (Dambulla)

Sri Lanka A v England Lions, one-day series

March 2 – Dambulla

March 4 – Dambulla

March 6 – Kurunegala

March 9 - Colombo

March 11 – Colombo

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