Liam Livingstone was conspicuous by his absence from the England Lions squad that will shadow the senior side in Australia this winter as Dom Sibley was handed an Ashes lifeline.
While Matt Parkinson and Saqib Mahmood were included in a 14-strong party that will head Down Under on the same day as England’s Test specialists on November 4, their Lancashire team-mate Livingstone has been overlooked.
The all-rounder had a prolific white-ball summer with the bat and although he retains Test ambitions, and averages 38.36 at first-class level, his chances to make a case have been restricted by his limited-overs commitments.
He is part of England’s Twenty20 World Cup squad and could head to Australia at the conclusion of the tournament for the Big Bash League, so he could conceivably be drafted in by England if necessary over the winter.
But despite former England captains Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan expressing the view that they would have selected Livingstone in the 17-man Ashes squad named last week, Livingstone is down the red-ball pecking order.
“Liam’s clearly a player of high potential,” said the England and Wales Cricket Board’s performance director Mo Bobat. “From a red-ball perspective, quite simply, it felt like there were other players ahead of him right now.
“He’s done incredibly in white-ball cricket but some of his red-ball numbers in the last couple of years might not have been what he’s wanted and he’s probably missed a bit of cricket from being around England environments.
“It’s worth saying from Liam’s perspective that he’s a player of potential but for any player that’s in and around (Australia) and might be in the country, they become playing resources we might have to call on.”
Hussain and Vaughan also suggested they would have selected leg-spinner Parkinson and fast bowler Mahmood in the main contingent headed by Joe Root. Parkinson has taken 102 first-class wickets at 23.35 while Mahmood’s extra pace could provide additional bowling firepower in the absence of the injured Jofra Archer and Olly Stone.
They are part of the standby squad that could push their claims for promotion in two intra-squad games, while there will also be one fixture against Australia A on dates to be decided, before a scheduled return home on December 16.
Opening batter Sibley is also in the Lions mix, having missed out on a central contract last week and been left out of the Ashes squad after being axed over the summer following a prolonged lean run of form.
“I would say there is a likelihood a player can put forward a compelling case and end up being around for the Ashes,” added Bobat. “Ultimately there’s a real opportunity for some of those players to showcase what they can do in front of the England captain.”
Sibley is among four players who have been capped in Tests to get a Lions call-up – the others being leg-break bowler Mason Crane and wicketkeeper-batters Ben Foakes and James Bracey – but James Vince is another omission.
Alex Lees is back six years after his last Lions involvement, while another opener in Rob Yates has been rewarded after amassing five first-class centuries this year – the most in 2021 globally excepting Root.
Yates, whose runs helped Warwickshire to the LV= Insurance County Championship and Bob Willis Trophy double this year, plus Lancashire batter Josh Bohannon, Surrey wicketkeeper Jamie Smith and Bears seamer Liam Norwell are set for their first Lions experience this winter.
Brydon Carse, who had his first taste of international cricket in July when helping England to a one-day clean sweep of Pakistan, fellow quick Matthew Fisher and batter Tom Abell make up the rest of the group.
The ECB revealed selection is conditional on all individuals “passing Lions minimum fitness standards”. No captain has been named yet while coaching appointments will be made in due course.
England Lions squad to tour Australia: T Abell (Somerset), J Bohannon (Lancashire), J Bracey (Gloucestershire), B Carse (Durham), M Crane (Hampshire), M Fisher (Yorkshire), B Foakes (Surrey), A Lees (Durham), S Mahmood (Lancashire), L Norwell (Warwickshire), M Parkinson (Lancashire), D Sibley (Warwickshire), J Smith (Surrey), R Yates (Warwickshire).