By Rory Dollard
Joe Root will captain England Lions in their tour cricket match against New Zealand next month.
The Yorkshire batsman is all but guaranteed a starting spot in the subsequent Test series against the Black Caps but he is viewed as a potential England skipper of the future and the selectors are keen to give him leadership experience.
Ashley Giles, the senior side’s limited-overs coach, will take charge of the team for the four-day match, which starts at Grace Road on May 9.
It will be the second and final warmup match for the New Zealanders ahead of the two-Test series starting at Lord’s in London on May 16. The opening tour match is against Derbyshire in Derby starting on May 4.
The Lions match will be the first of the tour for captain Brendon McCullum and former skipper Ross Taylor, who will miss the opening game due to commitments in the Indian Premier League.
Root will be leading out a strong Lions side which includes two other players who have genuine prospects of playing in the Test series – Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow and Durham seamer Graham Onions.
Ravi Bopara, Michael Carberry and James Taylor are the other Test-capped players to be named in the XI, while in Varun Chopra, Chris Woakes and Chris Wright there are also three players from Giles’ former county Warwickshire.
Middlesex’s in-form Toby Roland-Jones completes the pace attack, while Lancashire’s Simon Kerrigan is the only front-line spinner.
England Lions team to face New Zealand: J Root (c), J Bairstow (wkt) (both Yorkshire), R Bopara (Essex), M Carberry (Hampshire), V Chopra (Warwickshire), S Kerrigan (Lancashire), G Onions (Durham), T Roland-Jones (Middlesex), J Taylor (Nottinghamshire), C Woakes, C Wright (both Warwickshire).