Westley shines again for England Lions


Tom Westley top-scored for the Lions with 97 – the second time in three innings on the tour the Essex right-hander has fallen just short of a maiden Lions century, after he made 95 in the warm-up game against a Board President’s XI.

He came in after the early loss of Haseeb Hameed and Nick Gubbins had left the Lions on 14 for two – and before lunch Keaton Jennings, the Lions captain who had won the toss, was bowled for 23 trying to reverse sweep the experienced international off-spinner Dilruwan Perera.

But Westley teamed up with Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone in a fourth-wicket stand of 126 in 27 overs.

The Essex man was especially strong off his legs, stroking 14 fours and a six in a graceful 137-ball innings until he fell in unusual fashion, hooking to a deep leg slip where Charith Asalanka took a sharp catch.

Livingstone followed two overs later, edging a ball that turned sharply from the left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara after making 59 from 83 balls – also his second half century of the tour.

But when the Surrey trio of Sam Curran, Tom Curran and Ben Foakes all fell cheaply to Pushpakumara either side of tea, the Lions were in trouble after losing five wickets for 21 in 13 overs.

They were rescued by the Middlesex trio of Rayner, Helm and especially Roland-Jones. After some watchful reconnaissance against Pushpakumara and Perera, Rayner and Roland-Jones had just begun to open up when Rayner was trapped lbw in the first over of leg-spin from Udara Jayasundera.

Toby Roland-Jones led a last-session England Lions fightback as the Middlesex all-rounder belted 82 from 98 balls including three sixes and was helped by dogged support from his county team-mates Ollie Rayner and Tom Helm, as the Lions recovered from 210 for eight to a respectable total of 316 all out.

Roland-Jones then took two wickets in his first over, after Tom Curran had already struck in the first over of Sri Lanka A’s reply – and with Helm maintaining the pattern with a wicket in his first over, the home team will resume tomorrow on 29 for four.