Craig plays for England Lions in front of home crowd at Taunton

Cove EnglandSomerset’s Craig Overton had a taste of international cricket in front of his home crowd at Taunton on Wednesday.

Overton is part of a 13-man England Lions squad taking part in a triangular series between New Zealand ‘A’ and Sri Lanka ‘A’.

The Lions played their first game of the series against Sri Lanka at the County Ground on Wednesday with Overton among the final XI.

Batting first, the Lions treated the Taunton crowd to a feast of runs, piling up 339-5 in their 50 overs. Nottinghamshire’s Alex Hales top scored with a near run-a-ball 101, including 13 fours, to press his case for a recall to the England side.

Essex’s Ravi Bopara made 74, but his innings off 99 balls was made to look utterly sedate by Surrey’s Jason Roy, who made an astonishing 51 off just 25 balls with two fours and six sixes, including five in one over.

Yorkshire’s Johnny Bairstow ended unbeaten on 50 off 30 balls, with five fours and two sixes, and there was a quickfire 31 from Lions skipper James Taylor.

Overton was due to be the next man in had a further wicket fallen before the innings closed.

In reply, Sri Lanka threatened briefly during a 133-run second-wicket partnership in 23.5 overs from keeper Dinesh Chandimal (73) and Danushka Gunathilaka (57).

Sri Lanka captain Ashan Priyanjan and Bhanuka Rajapaksa both made 33, but once Rajapaksa was out at 185-4, wickets fell with some regularity and the run rate grew exponentially.

Priyanjan stuck around for an hour as wickets fell around him. He was eventually bowled by Overton off the bottom edge with the score 233-8. Despite a bit of fun from the tailenders, the game was as good as over, the Lions winning by a comfortable 51 run margin.

Overton finished with figures of 6-0-43-1, his figures dented by one over which went for 13.

He came into the attack in the 11th over and bowled a four-over spell for 27, before coming back to bowl two overs later in the innings when Sri Lanka were well behind the run rate, accounting for Priyanjan in his sixth and final over.

Overton later caught Lahiru Gamage (18) off Boyd Rankin, after the tail ender had hit a few consolatory boundries in a 41-run partnership in 5.4 overs for the ninth over wicket with Ramith Rambukwella (22)

The previous day, Sri Lanka had met New Zealand, also at the County Ground in Taunton, for the opening fixture of the competition.

Unfortunately rain spoilt the occasion, with only 5.3 overs possible, during which time Sri Lanka moved onto 31-1.

The Lions, who are being coached by the ECB’s Technical Director of Elite Coaching Andy Flower, are due to play two 50-over matches against each of the touring teams as part of the tri-series.

Bristol will now host the next two matches in the series later this week tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

Remaining Triangular Series schedule:

Friday August 8: England Lions v New Zealand ‘A’ – Bristol

Saturday August 9: New Zealand ‘A’ v Sri Lanka ‘A’ – Bristol

Monday August 11: England Lions v Sri Lanka ‘A’ – Worcester

Tuesday August 12: England Lions v New Zealand ‘A’ – Worcester

The Lions squad: James Taylor (Nottinghamshire) captain, Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Ravi Bopara (Essex), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Stephen Parry (Lancashire), Harry Gurney (Nottinghamshire), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Craig Overton (Somerset), Jason Roy (Surrey), Ravi Patel (Middlesex), Tom Smith (Lancashire), James Vince (Hampshire), David Willey (Northamptonshire)

This is the second time Craig has been selected for England Lions. He toured Australia as part of a Lions squad in early 2013 and also won a place on the ECB Potential Emerging Player Programme in South Africa at the start of this year.

His selection means he was unavailable for Somerset’s 50-over Royal London match today against Middlesex at Lord’s. He will also miss the game at home to Sussex.