Lancashire batsman Haseeb Hameed has been handed the opportunity to bolster his claim for a Test place this summer after being named in the England Lions’ squad for next week’s four-day fixture against South Africa A.
Also looking to impress the selectors will be Durham’s Keaton Jennings
Jennings and Hameed were two bright spots in England’s otherwise forgettable Test tour to India last winter.
But the pair have been in patchy form in the County Championship so far this season.
Both batsmen are firmly in the reckoning to partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order for the first Test against South Africa next month and a strong showing against the Proteas’ second string could prove invaluable.
South Africa-born Jennings has been named captain, as he was for the Lions’ four-day and one-day series in Sri Lanka earlier this year, in a 13-man squad for the encounter that begins on June 21 at Canterbury.
His former opening partner at Durham, Mark Stoneman – now of Surrey – and Somerset’s 19-year-old off-spinner Dominc Bess have been given their first Lions call-ups.
Bess is one of five players aged under 20 who have represented England Under-19s inside the last couple of years alongside Hameed, left-arm seamer Sam Curran, batsman Dan Lawrence and fast bowler George Garton.
National selector James Whitaker said: “That is a good message for all these Lions players, showing them the opportunity they now have to impress.
“It’s good to see a number of players in this squad who have come through the England Under-19s environment, and started to make an impact in county cricket.
“The Lions is another step up for them, and there is a balance with some more experienced players which we believe creates an exciting squad,” Whittaker added.
England Lions squad for four-day fixture against South Africa A: K Jennings (Durham, captain), M Stoneman (Surrey), H Hameed (Lancashire), N Gubbins (Middlesex), D Lawrence (Essex), B Foakes (Surrey, wk), S Curran (Surrey), J Overton (Somerset), T Helm (Middlesex), J Porter (Essex), G Garton (Sussex), J Leach (Somerset), D Bess (Somerset).