England may be pondering a recall for Jonathan Trott, but Yorkshire openers Adam Lyth and Alex Lees are ready and waiting to answer the call should selectors opt for new blood in the West Indies.
England play three Tests in the Caribbean next month, where they will hope to shake off the ignominy of their woeful World Cup campaign.
The identity of captain Alastair Cook’s batting partner is likely to be one of the most vexed questions during selection meetings this week, with incumbent Sam Robson on shaky ground and Trott reportedly being considered for the first time since departing the 2013-14 Ashes with a stress-related condition.
He made his name as a No 3 but with another Yorkshire batsman, Gary Ballance, having made that slot his own, Trott is being considered for a promotion.
Even if the 33-year-old travels, England may be tempted to take top-order cover and the title-winning pairing are first in line.
Lyth was the top scorer in Division One of the County Championship last summer, making 1,489 runs and scoring six centuries, while 21-year-old Lees made 971 runs and is rated as one of the country’s brightest prospects.
“I feel like I’ve had a good winter with England Lions and, hopefully, I get the telephone call which I think I thoroughly deserve,” said Lyth.
“I’m looking forward to what might come for me. You can see how many people in recent years have gone on from playing Lions cricket to representing England and, hopefully, I can be the next one.
“If that’s not the case, all I can do is keep scoring runs for Yorkshire.”
Lyth and Lees are an unusual study in partners as rivals – as well as batting together throughout the county season they also played for the Lions in South Africa over the winter.
Even yesterday they were leading rival Yorkshire teams in an inter-club friendly in Abu Dhabi, but their relationship is strong.
“Of course I get on really well with Alex and if he gets the nod I’ll give him a pat on the back and say ‘well done’, but I obviously hope it’s me,” added Lyth.
Lees is aware of the interest he has attracted as a stylish young opener, but is attempting to remain on an even keel as speculation over a Test call builds.
“I know I’ve had a good 18 months or so but I’ve got to keep knocking on the door and getting those runs,” he said.
“Personally, the talk doesn’t affect me, positive or negative, because people are always going to have their opinion on you and you just have to focus on your game.
“There is a spot with England and there’s a few players in the mix. I think there will be an opportunity for somebody this year.
“It’s quite refreshing that both me and Lythy are in the mix, we can really push each other on to be our best. That’s good for us and, hopefully, it’s good for Yorkshire.”
England bowling coach David Saker, 48, is to return to his native Melbourne to take charge of Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League.
Saker succeeded Ottis Gibson as England’s bowling coach in early 2010, and in his first assignment helped them win the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies – still this country’s only International Cricket Council global trophy.
He was then part of the management team alongside coach Andy Flower which won back-to-back Ashes and, briefly, took England to the top of the ICC rankings.
Paceman Mohammad Irfan has undergone an MRI scan as Pakistan ponder his availability for their World Cup quarter-final clash against Australia.
The 7ft Irfan, who has eight victims in five World Cup innings, sat out Pakistan’s seven-wicket win over Ireland on Sunday with pain in his hip.
Pakistan face Australia on Friday in Adelaide, with a potential semi-final against India at stake, should the latter beat Bangladesh.