England v West Indies Tests - Men's
New boy shines in warm-up to firm for England debut
Essex's Dan Lawrence and opener James Bracey pass 50 on the opening day of England's three-day intra-squad match ahead of the Tests against the West Indies
2 July 2020, 07:07 AM AEST
Uncapped right-hander Dan Lawrence has moved a step closer to a possible Test debut next week after an eye-catching cameo in England's intra-squad match in Southampton.
Lawrence posted a brisk 58 of the opening day of the 'Team Stokes' v 'Team Buttler' warm-up game to put his name forward to play in the first Test against the West Indies, starting next week.
The absence of regular skipper Joe Root (paternity leave) for the first Test has opened a spot in the middle order, with Lawrence and Joe Denly (who scored 48 on Wednesday) the lead contenders for the role.
The 34-year-old Denly has averaged exactly 30 in 14 Tests since his belated debut 18 months ago, but selectors may look the future and bank on the 22-year-old Lawrence instead.
Lawrence has been a key pillar of Essex's recent County Championship victories and impressed on the England Lions tour of Australia earlier this year, slamming 190 against a young CA XI in Hobart and – more impressively – posting 125 at the MCG against a strong Australia A attack led by Jackson Bird and Michael Neser.
"He looks really good," said fellow newcomer James Bracey, who is not considered a serious contender for a Test spot next week despite top scoring with 85 on Wednesday in an unfamiliar opening position.
"I played with Dan all winter. I went to India with him before Christmas and he was obviously with us on the Lions in Australia, and he was outrageous when we went over there.
"He's really good at going through the gears, but it's important to know he's got a really good defensive game too. He's definitely got the technique to play Test cricket, no doubt about it. Today, we saw more of that and he was able to get into his stride."
Lawrence faced 83 balls for his 58 on Wednesday, including six fours and a six, while Denly took 102 balls to reach 48 before he was trapped in front by Jimmy Anderson.
Anderson took 2-49 from his 18 overs, his first serious hit out since suffering a rib injury at the start of the year. The veteran is one of a host of pace bowling options selectors have to choose from for the first Test, with Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran also set to feature in the three-day match.
Spinners Jack Leach (0-57 from 15 overs) and Moeen Ali (0-32 from seven) were unable to make any impact on day one as they look to unseat incumbent off-spinner Dom Bess.
England three-day intra-squad match, Southampton
Team Buttler 5-287 (Bracey 85, Lawrence 58, Denly 48, C Overton 2-32, Anderson 2-49) v Team Stokes
Team Stokes: Dominic Sibley, Keaton Jennings, Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes, Moeen Ali, Lewis Gregory, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Jack Leach, James Anderson, Saqib Mahmood
Team Buttler: Rory Burns, James Bracey, Joe Denly, Dan Lawrence, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (c), Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Mark Wood, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Robinson