The four-day match between the England Lions and the South Africans begins in Canterbury today as the preparations for the upcoming three-match Test series ramps up.
We already know the 14-strong England squad for the first two matches of that series, which begins at Lord’s on Wednesday 17th August, but there are still plenty of interesting storylines to keep an eye on over the next four days.
Here are a few of our favourites…
Ollie Robinson’s return from injury
A back injury has meant Ollie Robinson is yet to feature under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum but he has been named in the 14-strong squad for the South Africa series, so he has a chance to show the new captain and coach what he can do.
The seamer made an explosive return to action for Sussex last month – taking nine wickets in a County Championship against Nottinghamshire – so certainly seems back to his best.
Some wickets against the South Africans at Canterbury may well help him cement his place in the XI at Lord’s.
Dom Sibley back in contention
Another eye-catching inclusion in the Lions squad is opener Dom Sibley, who has not featured for England since last August.
He’s been in strong form for Warwickshire this summer and appears to have got the memo about how Stokes and McCullum want their batters to approach games.
The Vicar of Sibley was criticised at times for his slow scoring rate but has been more aggressive in recent months and even scored 106* in 107 balls in a recent Royal London One-Day Cup game.
Sibley appears to be back in contention and will be keen to make the most of his opportunity.
A chance for the batters to prove their BazBall credentials
Sibley is not the only England batter that will be determined to prove their BazBall credentials in Canterbury.
The new approach to batting under McCullum and Stokes invites players to take the game to the opposition – we’ve seen that reflected in the county game and it’ll be interesting to see how the Lions batters approach things over the next four days.
The likes of Harry Brook, Sam Billings, and Dan Lawrence all seem to have games that should be well suited to England’s red-ball new era – and now they have the chance to show that against Test-level opposition.
An early look at the South Africans
Just as pre-season games do not give a fair reflection of how a Premier League football team will fare in the new season, tour matches don’t define how a team will get on when the Test series begins but it will still be interesting to get an early look at the South Africans.
So far New Zealand and India have been unable to stop the new England, can the Proteas be the ones to do so?
We should get a hint at the answer to that over the next four days!