Gregory keen to see how Lions go against Australia XI with Test experience

Lewis Gregory - leading England against Australia today

LEWIS Gregory believes some of the members of the England Lions squad for the game against an Australia XI this week could force themselves into Ashes contention with a good performance in Canterbury, writes Stuart Clarke

The Somerset all-rounder captains the side in the four-day game, which starts on Sunday, and is excited to see how his young team fare against a squad that features 12 players with Test caps for Australia.

The Lions squad also has experienced Test stars in its midst in Sam Curran, Ben Foakes and Jack Leach, who are among a group of players at the top of their game and excelling in domestic cricket this season.

“It’s a really good opportunity and challenge to face up to some guys who have played a lot of international cricket,” said Gregory, who went up through the youth system in Devon and with Plympton all the way to captaining England U19s.

“It’s the pinnacle of the sport we play and it’s the aspiration of all the guys in the dressing room to play international cricket, so it will be a good opportunity to see where guys are at.

“I think some will see it as an opportunity to go out and perform, and maybe put on such a good performance that they can be talked about for the Ashes.”

Gregory has captaincy experience from his T20 role at Somerset, as well as having led the Lions in their pre-Christmas tour in the UAE, although the seamer, who has 44 Specsavers County Championship wickets to his name this season, admits he’s quite new to skippering red-ball cricket.

But he knows his teammates are also coming in to the game in great form – like opener Dom Sibley, who is the highest-scoring Englishman in the Championship, while paceman Ollie Robinson has 40 wickets for Sussex this term.

And while the group only joined up on Friday night, Gregory is confident of them coming together as a team and earning a positive result.

“It’s a good bunch of guys and they’re here because they’ve been successful in county cricket, so they deserve their chance. Hopefully we can bond very quickly over the next few days and put on a good performance,” he said.

“Guys have been performing, and that’s why they’re here. I’m trying to be chilled and let guys go out and do what they’ve been doing in county cricket.

“Ultimately it’s just another game of cricket; your teammates are different and it’s different opposition but it’s important to be relaxed and to go out and play.”