Lions tours benefit England

Opener Joe Root is part of the England squad, but is unlikely to play a Test match on this India tour. This is often the fate of fringe players, who are forced to talk up the 'intangibles' they have gained from sharing a dressing room with international stars.

Root, however, is getting some genuine experience of Indian conditions. On Wednesday, he scored a cracking 166 for England Lions at the DY Patil Stadium, on a dry wicket, against an array of spinners including India U-19 star Harmeet Singh. The Lions, a group of academy players identified as future international players, have been touring alongside the senior team since 2005.

These shadow tours have ensured that England have 15 match-fit players at all times. At DY Patil, Steven Finn proved his bowling fitness, having recovered from a thigh strain sustained in England's first warm-up match. He also took four wickets to stake a claim for inclusion in the Kolkata Test. Graham Onions, Eoin Morgan and Stuart Meaker also got match practice.

Promising players outside the Test squad have also had a chance to show their mettle in foreign conditions. Left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan took four wickets in Navi Mumbai. Were Graeme Swann or Monty Panesar to suffer an injury mid-tour, England can draft in a replacement at a moment's notice.

England, therefore, can literally choose their eleven from 30 players, all acclimatised and raring to go.

It's hard to say if their recent away successes they won the 2010-11 Ashes in Australia, as well as dramatic Test victories in Colombo and now in Mumbai are a consequence of their shadow-team policy. But the ECB have clearly shown long-term vision.

Bharat is a senior correspondent based in Mumbai.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.