Westley continues to knock on selectors door


Tom Westley maintained his excellent winter form with a steady 68 as he continues to put himself firmly in the England selectors thoughts.

Westley, who made 95 in the Lions’ warm-up match in Colombo and 97 in Kandy, again timed the ball sweetly, especially off the spinners, to stroke 68 from 105 balls before he was bowled by Pushpakumara – who had briefly switched to bowling from over the wicket, and turned one from outside leg stump to clip the off.

Liam Livingstone made the first century of England Lions’ tour of Sri Lanka in fierce Dambulla heat on the first day of their second four-day match against Sri Lanka A.

The Lancashire batsman, who scored 59 in the Lions’ victory in the opening game of the series in Kandy, hardly had the energy to celebrate when he reached three figures midway through the evening session by punching through the covers for his 11th boundary.

He had to be draped in iced towels during the tea interval, and suffered cramp in his right wrist, but the 23-year-old Cumbrian reached his third first-class century from 133 balls.

He fell shortly afterwards, one of seven victims for the uncapped left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpukamara, and the Lions were grateful to an unbroken last-wicket stand of 26 between their own spinners Ollie Rayner and Jack Leach to steer them to 339 for nine at the close.

Keaton Jennings had won an important toss and chosen to bat, as in Kandy. He then played the leading role in an opening stand of 49 with Haseeb Hameed, before the Lancashire opener steered Asitha Fernando to second slip in the 11th over.

Tom Alsop replaced Nick Gubbins at no3 in one of two changes to  the Lions team, with Leach coming in for Tom Helm in the expectation of a spin-friendly pitch.

The Sri Lankans had used three spinners by the 20th over when Alsop became the first victim for Pushpakumara, driving a return catch.

Jennings fell caught behind to the same bowler for 44 from 52 balls, leaving the Lions wobbling at 77 for three.

As in Kandy, Livingstone joined Westley in an important fourth wicket partnership, first steering the Lions through to lunch and then picking up the pace in the afternoon session.

Westley was the only wicket the Lions lost between lunch and tea as Ben Foakes joined Livingstone in a fifth-wicket stand of 83.

Livingstone reached his 50 from 82 balls just before the interval, then accelerated after the break with three consecutive boundaries off Lahiru Gamage – two powerful whips wide of mid-on, before he steered a high full toss through the slips to third man.

Foakes also showed his skill against the spinners after two failures in Kandy, until he fell caught behind to Pushpakumara for 30 from 55 balls.

Livingstone was in the 90s at the time so it was Sam Curran who congratulated him when he reached his century. But Livingstone fell in the next over and there was no repeat of the Lions’ lower-order rally in Kandy as both Curran brothers and Toby Roland-Jones fell cheaply to spin – although Rayner offered further evidence of his batting ability, and Leach took 10 off the last over of the day including a classical cover-drive.