England v New Zealand: Miller coy on Pietersen replacement for first Test
England v New Zealand: Geoff Miller says Kevin Pietersen's replacement for first Test won't be determined solely by Lions game
Kevin Pietersen’s replacement for the first Test match against New Zealand will not be determined solely by runs in this week’s England Lions game, according to chief selector Geoff Miller.
Yorkshire’s Joe Root captains the Lions in their four-day game against the Black Caps starting at Grace Road on Thursday, and with Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara and James Taylor all in the side, one of the three is likely to fill in for Pietersen at Lord’s.
However, Miller told the ECB’s website that each of the trio’s form over the past period will be taken into consideration rather than weight of runs scored in the warm-up game.
“The New Zealand game is just an added bonus to us where we can see our players develop at a little bit of a higher level mentally than county cricket,” said Miller.
“We’ve got an idea where we are with the Test side even with Kevin not being available. So it wouldn’t just boil down to a straight battle between batters to actually get into that side.
“We know what we’re going to do. This is always good; Lions is always good because it gives us a realisation of players between county cricket and international cricket.”
Nottinghamshire’s Taylor and Yorkshire wicket-keeper batsman Bairstow have both been in fine form for their respective counties recently, while Bopara was surprisingly included in the ICC Champions Trophy squad.
Bairstow made scores of 186 and 53, while Taylor hit 97, one and 108 and in stark contrast during that time, the Essex all-rounder Bopara complied just 23 runs from four innings, but he does offer an alternative bowling option.
The Lions will be lead for the first time by 22-year-old Root, who is likely to play at Lord’s next week having featured in England’s last four Tests, and Miller is keen to see how he deals with the captaincy role.
“It’s a policy and it’s forward thinking,” Miller added. “We did it with Alastair Cook when Andrew Strauss was captain.
“You’ve got to be thinking a little bit further along the line, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to captaincy. We know what his reaction is playing-wise.
“This is something a little bit different and giving him the responsibility of how he reacts to that.”
England Lions team to face New Zealand: J Root (c), J Bairstow (wkt) (both Yorkshire), R Bopara (Essex), M Carberry (Hampshire), V Chopra (Warwickshire), S Kerrigan (Lancashire), G Onions (Durham), T Roland-Jones (Middlesex), J Taylor (Nottinghamshire), C Woakes, C Wright (both Warwickshire).