Graeme Welch will join the England Lions coaching staff before their five-match 50-over series against Pakistan A in Dubai this month.
Derbyshire’s Elite Performance Director will team up with Andy Flower, Worcestershire’s Steve Rhodes and the rest of the Lions staff – including Gary Kirsten, the former India and South Africa coach who will join the squad next week in a consultancy role.
“I’m going out there to work with the fast bowlers,” said Welch, who will fly out with the squad tomorrow and return on Sunday week, three days before the start of the series.
“I’ve done a bit of work with England programmes before in Chennai and Mumbai, and a couple of days with the Lions when they were at home to Australia a couple of years ago. But this is the first time I’ll have spent this long with a squad and I’m really looking forward to it.
“There’s an exciting group of fast bowlers going out there. I’ve worked with Liam Plunkett before but the rest of them are new to me and I’m looking forward to working with them.
“It’s also a good chance to work with Andy Flower, Bumpy Rhodes and also Gary Kirsten, who has a wealth of knowledge from working all around the world. It should be a great experience.
“I think it’s good for Derbyshire as well that I’m going out there, and I’m happy that our winter programme will keep running fine without me for the next couple of weeks, under the capable direction of John Sadler and our other coaches. But I didn’t want to miss too much, which is why I’m coming back on the 17th rather than staying out there for the Lions matches.”
Plunkett is one of three additions to the squad that claimed a 3-2 victory over Pakistan A in a T20 series before Christmas, sealed in dramatic circumstances as Surrey’s Tom Curran held his nerve in a Super Over after Dawid Malan of Middlesex had starred with the bat.
The experienced Yorkshire all-rounder, who was a member of last winter’s successful Lions tour of South Africa and has remained a regular in senior England squads over the last 12 months, is joined by two other fast bowlers – Toby Roland-Jones, who is rewarded for his excellent season for Middlesex, and Craig Overton, who joins his twin brother Jamie after an outstanding 2015 campaign for Somerset.
He was ruled out of the T20 series after suffering an elbow injury in training, but he has been making good progress in his recovery at Somerset and the England medical staff are hopeful that he will be fully fit and available for the start of the series against Pakistan A on 20 January.
“As with our time in Dubai before Christmas, this month offers the players another great opportunity to combine learning with high-quality competition,” said Flower.
“If we can play as well as we did in the T20s that would be nice, but it will be another tough series against a Pakistan team which is likely to have more international experience than we do, as was the case in the T20s.
“It is also an opportunity for these guys to put themselves at the front of the minds of the national selectors – and they’re aware of that.”
Sam Billings and the captain James Vince have been given permission to delay their departure until the weekend as they will be joining the senior England T20 squad in South Africa at the end of the Lions series.
England Lions squad
James Vince (Hampshire) (captain)
Jake Ball (Nottinghamshire)
Daniel Bell-Drummond (Kent)
Sam Billings (Kent)
Joe Clarke (Worcestershire)
Tom Curran (Surrey)
Liam Dawson (Hampshire)
Ben Foakes (Surrey)
Dawid Malan (Middlesex)
Craig Overton (Somerset)
Jamie Overton (Somerset)
Stephen Parry (Lancashire)
Liam Plunkett (Yorkshire)
Toby Roland-Jones (Middlesex)
Tom Westley (Essex)
Ross Whiteley (Worcestershire)
England Lions UAE itinerary
- 6 January – depart for UAE
- 7-12 January – training camp
- 14 January – warm-up match (venue, time to be finalised)
- 16 January – warm-up match (venue, time to be finalised)
- Five-match 50-over series against Pakistan A (venues, timings to be finalised)
- 20 January
- 22 January
- 25 January
- 28 January
- 30 January