Lions shift focus to Australia A

THE captain of England's touring second-tier team, novice Test batsman James Taylor, says its imminent series against Australia A will provide a better gauge of its talent and mettle than the 3-0 loss in the series against Victoria.

The Lions will travel to Hobart on Thursday after losing all three 50-over matches to Victoria, including one on Monday when a second-string Bushrangers line-up successfully chased a target of 336.

In the last match, on Wednesday at the MCG, the Lions posted a paltry 173, with none of its batsman reaching 50 and only one partnership that reached 30.

Two bowlers who excelled against the Lions in the first match, seamer Scott Boland and leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, were similarly effective in the series-ending match, respectively claiming 4-24 and 2-21. Wicketkeeper and stand-in captain Peter Handscomb also took four catches as the English batsman struggled to accurately gauge the line of the Victorian bowlers.

In response the Bushrangers coasted to victory with eight wickets and 12.3 overs in hand. Opener Rob Quiney looked on track for a second consecutive century against the Lions before he was run out for 76, before Michael Hill took control of the chase to finish unbeaten on 45.

Twenty-three-year-old Taylor, who made an unbeaten century in the second match, did not excuse the results but said the team's top priority for the precursor series against Victoria was to experiment with line-ups and bowling combinations so everyone could get match practice, given the English players had not played competitively since September.

''We never batted and bowled well on the same day, which doesn't bode too well. But there's plenty of positives to come out of them,'' he said.

''We've mixed the teams around, we probably bowled people when we wouldn't have bowled them in the real thing. There's little things we would have done different, definitely.

''Obviously we've got a young squad here, but plenty of potential.''

He said while the three matches against the Bushrangers had ''served their purpose'', especially as most of the Lions' batsmen had batted well at least once, its focus was now exclusively on the five-match Australia A series.

''That's what we've said. We've come out here to beat Australia A first and foremost,'' Taylor said. ''Obviously we tried to win these games but we did that in a roundabout way so everybody got a got a good run out. We achieved that, but we didn't win them which is a shame.''

Boland said the Bushrangers were rapt to have swept the week-long series against the Lions, particularly the middle match which consisted solely of emerging players.

This story Lions shift focus to Australia A first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.