KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan will go head-to-head for a place in the England Test side after being named in the 12-man England Lions squad to play Sri Lanka.
The pair are touted as favourites to replace the retired Paul Collingwood in the England middle order for the three match series with Sri Lanka.
Bopara and Morgan will be desperate to score some timely runs in the four-day match at the County Ground, Derby, starting on May 19.
James Taylor and James Hildreth, who continues as captain after a successful tour of the West Indies over the winter, will also hope to make their case to the selectors.
Elsewhere, Ashes tourists Ajmal Shahzad and Stephen Finn feature in a bowling unit which also includes fit again Durham seamer Graham Onions.
Controversial all-rounder Samit Patel, who has had well publicised issues with his fitness, receives a call-up, as does unused ICC World Cup replacement Jade Dernbach.
Bopara signaled his intention to regain his Test spot by turning down a lucrative Indian Premier League contract in order to play county cricket for Essex.
He made a 12-ball duck in his latest innings for Essex against Derbyshire but his previous effort was an unbeaten 137 to see his side to victory against Glamorgan.
Morgan meanwhile has been in action for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and will have to quickly make the switch from Twenty20 cricket to first-class in order to win a place.
The Irish born left-hander was reserve batsman for the recent Ashes tour and is considered England’s best one-day performer.
He played all six Tests in England last summer, averaging 32.00 in largely seam friendly conditions with the highlight a sublime 130 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge.
Taylor, considered by many the best young prospect in England, and Hildreth will be hoping to continue their excellent Lions form on from the winter.
The pair finished atop the side's batting averages as England Lions competed in the West Indies Regional Four-Day Competition.
Taylor, 21, has continued his fine form this summer and averages 61.62 in first-class cricket.
26-year-old Hildreth has been less prolific but has built a strong reputation, particularly for playing spin-bowling, over a number of years in the county game.
For the likes of Patel, Finn, Shahzad and Onions, the match is a perfect opportunity to impress the selectors as they look to force their way back onto the international scene.
National Selector Geoff Miller urged his side to make the most of their chance.
Miller said: "It has been very pleasing to see many of the players selected for the England Lions squad last winter make good starts to the domestic season and they have been rewarded with an opportunity to play a strong Sri Lankan side and push for further international honours.
"England Lions games are crucial stages in a player's development and give selectors a good indication of whether players are ready to make the transition into the full England side."