England’s cricket selectors have finally come calling for Kabir Ali and Simon Jones - and have put them in the Lions squad.
The duo have been named in the Lions party to face South Africa in a one-day match at Leicester on August 14 while Kabir joins Warwickshire’s Jonathan Trott in the 12-man party for a match against the tourists at Derby two days later.
In overlooking the Worcestershire pair for the main squad, it is hard not to feel as though Geoff Miller and his cohorts are attempting to appease the growing number of calls pleading for the duo’s inclusion.
That is the way this announcement is being seen by Kabir whose place in the Lions - England’s A team - has come after he was inexplicably left out of the 30-man squad for the Champions Trophy.
“England selection is quite a funny one,” the 27-year-old said last night. “I never have understood it and I never will but as long as I am there or thereabouts, then I have to be pretty happy.”
If the appointment of Kevin Pietersen as captain in place of Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood suggests a braver and brasher approach on the field, Miller’s squad announcement smacked of the cosy conservative choices that, many have claimed, have led to the national side being in this mess in the first place.
Ravi Bopara has come in for Vaughan meaning the bowlers, who performed so averagely as a unit at Edgbaston, are unchanged. Kabir, whose 52 championship wickets this season have come at an average of 19, would be forgiven for thinking that circumstances might never be so favourable again.
He added: “Obviously, I’m pleased to be in because it means I’ve made some sort of impression - but at the same time I am a little bit disappointed because I have been bowling well and taking a lot of wickets.
“Beggars can’t be choosers. I can only control matters in my hands and I have done that well this season. The fact is I have made the Lions and, hopefully, if I can take some more wickets and keep bowling well, then I will make the main squad.”
What makes the inclusion of Kabir and Jones look more like political manouevring is the lack of discernible natural progression between players in the two sqauds in recent years. Kabir added: “I would doubt performing for the Lions would put me in a better position for a full call-up - but I don’t know. I have had a good season in all forms of the game so I thought that would see me pushing for the full squad. If it doesn’t, I will just have to get in the gym and try again next year.”