Toby Roland-Jones made a first competitive return to action yesterday, as he and Nick Gubbins featured in the England Lions side who took on a Jamaica XI at Kingston, in the opening match of England Lions' tour of the West Indies.
Roland-Jones has been side-lined since picking up a back injury in the latter stages of the 2017 season, and after a lengthy period of recuperation over the winter months, his return to fitness is terrific news for England and Middlesex fans alike.
Keaton Jennings enjoyed the perfect preparation for England Lions’ three-match "Test" series against West Indies A by making a century on the first day of their warm-up fixture against a Jamaica XI at Sabina Park.
Jennings, who is captaining the Lions for a second consecutive winter as he aims to regain his England place, scored an unbeaten 129 in a total of 263 for eight declared.
He shared an opening stand of 40 with one of his new Lancashire team-mates, Haseeb Hameed, but the most prolonged support came from the Red Rose wicketkeeper Alex Davies, who made 54 in a seventh-wicket partnership of 97.
Hameed (18), Liam Livingstone (11), Joe Clarke (11) and Ben Foakes (18) all made double figures without cashing in, and there were single figure scores for Nick Gubbins, Dan Lawrence and Paul Coughlin.
Jennings’ declaration allowed the Lions' seamers a quick dart at their hosts before the close, which brought Roland-Jones into the action, as he picked up exactly where he left off last year, bagging two wickets with the new ball in four lively overs to reduce the hosts to 36 for 4 at stumps.
The Lions hope to give all 16 members of their squad some time in the middle in what is not a first-class fixture, ahead of the first of the three “Tests” against West Indies A which starts across Jamaica in Trelawny on Sunday.
They also learned yesterday the details of the players they will be facing when the serious business begins. Kieran Powell, the 27-year-old opener who played in all three Tests in England last summer, will lead the team, and is joined by several other familiar names with international experience.
Jermaine Blackwood, the hard-hitting Jamaican who scored his only Test century against England in Antigua in 2015, will be joined in the middle-order by wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich.
And the seam attack will feature two members of West Indies’ most recent Test team as Miguel Cummins is joined by the left-armer Raymon Reifer – with their selectors keen to assess their options ahead of home series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh later this year.
Courtney Browne, the West Indies chairman of selectors, said: “With a strong England Lions team touring the Caribbean, the selection panel felt that it was a good opportunity to strengthen the A team with some of our Test players who will not have the opportunity to play any first-class cricket ahead of the Sri Lanka series.
“This series also provides some of the incumbent Test players the opportunity to restate a claim for a position in the Test match squad for the what will be two important home series.”
West Indies A squad: Kieran Powell (captain), Shamarh Brooks (vice captain), Jermaine Blackwood, John Campbell, Rahkeem Cornwall, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Jahmar Hamilton, Keon Joseph, Jeremiah Louis, Raymon Reifer, Vishaul Singh, Jomel Warrican
1st “Test” – Trelawny Multiplex, Jamaica Sunday, February 11 to Wednesday, February 14
2nd “Test” – Sabina Park, Jamaica Sunday, February 18 to Wednesday, February 21
3rd “Test” – Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, Antigua Monday, February 26 to Thursday, March 1