YORKSHIRE bowling coach Richard Pyrah tweeted his disappointment for Ben Coad after the squad for the England Lions tour to the UAE was announced recently.
“Gutted for @BenCoad10 another outstanding year and has missed out on the England Lions squad. Over 100 wickets at 19 #genius #YourYorkshire,” was the message.
The Yorkshire pace bowler did not make the 15-man squad for the four-day ‘Test’ against Pakistan A, or indeed the 15-man party that will contest five ODIs and two T20s against the same opponents.
Instead, batsman Tom Kohler-Cadmore is Yorkshire’s sole representative with the England second string, the former Worcestershire man selected in both squads for the games that run from November 18 to December 8.
Whether Coad should or should not have made the tour is a matter of opinion. The squads include some impressive pace bowlers – Mark Wood, Jamie Porter, the Overton twins, and so on.
Whenever young players are called up for Lions’ action they naturally talk of what a great honour it is, how flattered and delighted they are, and so on, perceiving it as another step on the career ladder.Chris Waters
But Coad’s record certainly speaks for itself – 98 County Championship wickets in 21 appearances in the last two seasons at an average of 18.64, including 48 this summer at 16.33 after he backed up strongly his breakthrough year.
This is a man who is going places – if not, in this particular instance, to the UAE. The broader points, however, are firstly that the likes of Coad, Kohler-Cadmore and also Matty Fisher, the Yorkshire pace bowler, are firmly in the selectors’ thoughts.
Fisher might have been in contention himself but for a back injury, and Yorkshire are supplying plenty of talent to the Lions, just as they supply it to the full England sides.
Of course, this rarely causes a problem during the off-season – unless Lions’ tours clash with the meat of pre-season, when Yorkshire like to have the bulk of their squad together for preparation and practice, it is clearly beneficial for their players to gain valuable experience of different conditions.
During the summer, however, priorities change, and one doubts whether Pyrah, for example, would have been tweeting his displeasure had Coad been bypassed for England Lions’ games that clashed with Championship fixtures, which brings us, perhaps, to the most important point.
For that is intended as no criticism whatsoever of Pyrah, but rather of the system, whereby it is good for counties to have their players called-up during the winter, but not necessarily so in the summer months.
Reciprocal tour arrangements are in place at Lions’ level, of course, just as they are at full international level; indeed, it would be unrealistic for England to expect only to travel away from home and for their opponents not to visit these shores.
But there is clearly a discussion to be had about Lions’ games during the English season, and, specifically, on what criteria are used to select those squads.
As a rule the respective parties try to accommodate each other as best they can, mindful, as they are, of the respective demands and priorities at play, but it is difficult due to the sheer range of those demands and priorities and a schedule that is so jam-packed that the proverbial tin of sardines seems roomy by comparison.
Mark Arthur, the Yorkshire chief executive, has some interesting thoughts on this subject.
He feels that if counties supply a certain number of players to the full England side they should not have to lose any more to the Lions at the same time, a common-sense position that would also ensure that the integrity of county cricket is not further compromised.
Last season Yorkshire lost Kohler-Cadmore and Fisher for the Lions’ one-day tri-series against India A and the West Indies A.
It ruled them out of the Championship matches against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl and against Surrey at Scarborough, and lifted to seven the number of international players that Yorkshire had away at that time with Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and David Willey also on duty for the five-match one-day series against Australia.
“The critical point for me, when it really came home to me that it’s not a level playing field in this respect, was the England Lions’ situation this summer,” said Arthur.
“We always accept it at Yorkshire when players get called up for the full England sides – great.
“But I do believe that there should be a system whereby if you are supplying, say, over three players to the England set-up at any one time that you can’t take any more for the Lions.
“I think that if three or more are being used by England at any one time then England shouldn’t be allowed to call up any more players for Lions’ cricket when that county has got a competitive match.”
It should also be noted that clubs can lose players to the various England age-group squads, such as the Under-19s.
It has become, in many ways, a pin-in-the-hat-job as to which players will or will not be available.
Arthur’s call for what would effectively be a Lions’ player-cap is a sensible one; sensible, at least, from the clubs’ perspective.
On the other hand, of course, young players might argue that they would be penalised if they were unable to enhance their careers in this manner because their clubs are already supplying a certain number of full England cricketers, effectively penalising them due to their own club’s success.
Indeed, whenever young players are called up for Lions’ action they naturally talk of what a great honour it is, how flattered and delighted they are, and so on, perceiving it as another step on the career ladder.
It is another example of how competing priorities are literally everywhere; everyone has their different goals and ambitions.
A personal belief is that the best way for young players to enhance their careers is to play as much Championship cricket as possible.
Would Kohler-Cadmore and Fisher, for example, have got more out of playing a few one-day games against India A and the West Indies A or by taking on the eventual champions Surrey at Scarborough?
Would Kohler-Cadmore have got more out of facing Surrey’s Morne Morkel, for instance, and derived more from that experience than by facing bowlers of much lesser pedigree?
Ditto would Fisher have gained more from bowling at the likes of Surrey’s Rory Burns than he would against batsmen of lesser calibre?
The answer, some would say, is fairly self-evident, and Arthur’s suggestion is one that the powers-that-be would do well to heed.
England’s pride of emerging young talent
THE England Lions’ tour begins with a four-day ‘Test’ against Pakistan A in Abu Dhabi from November 18-21.
The first two 50-over games take place in Dubai (November 25 and November 27), the next two in Abu Dhabi (November 29 and December 2), and then it is back to Dubai (December 5). Both T20 contests take place in Abu Dhabi (December 7 and December 8).
Lions’ ‘Test’ squad: Dom Bess (Somerset), Sam Billings (Kent), Joe Clarke (Nottinghamshire), Nick Gubbins (Middlesex), Max Holden (Middlesex), Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Yorkshire), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Craig Overton (Somerset), Jamie Overton (Somerset), Matt Parkinson (Lancashire), Jamie Porter (Essex), Jason Roy (Surrey), Amar Virdi (Surrey), Mark Wood (Durham).
Lions’ white-ball squad: Dom Bess (Somerset), Joe Clarke (Nottinghamshire), Alex Davies (Lancashire), Lewis Gregory (Somerset), Nick Gubbins (Middlesex), Sam Hain (Warwickshire), Max Holden (Middlesex), Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Yorkshire), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Craig Overton (Somerset), Jamie Overton (Somerset), Matt Parkinson (Lancashire), Jamie Porter (Essex), Mark Wood (Durham).