The Lions squad was announced last week and whilst I didn’t remark upon it at the time, there are some interesting names both included and not.
Apart from the inclusion of Simon Kerrigan (about which I am actually a bit disappointed as we really need him in the LV=CC right now), Nick Compton has also been rewarded for his great start to the season with a call-up. The side is still led by James Taylor. Ravi Bopara has not been included, fuelling suggestion that he is already written into number six in the Test side. This may be true, but I am not certain that it is. The argument goes that England are so sure he will be in the side that they do not want the Windies to get a look at him ahead of time and thus they have omitted him in favour of a purely experimental side of youngsters. Again, this could be. There’s nothing ridiculous about it. But I am not convinced. (Note that this has nothing to do with the fact that Bopara shouldn’t be selected, it’s the separate question of whether he will be anyway.)
First off, I am uneasy with using a lack of selection to a reserve match as proof of first team selection. Note that Graham Onions will also not be playing for the Lions either, however he is very, very unlikely to be in the Test side. The bigger objection is the inclusion of Compton, however. Compton will be 29 this summer, he is not a young prospect. He is not a developing player. I don’t see him being in the Lions as a measure for the next few years, the way it is with Taylor. Surely, the only reason for him to be playing is as an audition for the Test side. Were it a guarantee that Bopara were playing, there would be no need to select Compton for the Lions.
I think the most likely explanation is that Bopara is the default. Despite not playing recently, he will be selected if nothing changes. However, the selection of Compton is an opportunity for something to change. I think the attitude of the selectors will be that Compton can force his way into the side with a good Lions performance in much the same way that Morgan did last year. I rather hope I am right, Bopara remains almost the last person I want to see batting at six for England.