Cricket: England youth put to test

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The Independent Online
England's long-term planning to provide a steady production line of Test cricketers begins in earnest when the A party set out for their tour to Kenya and Sri Lanka today.

The 16-strong party is one of the youngest to have been selected for an A tour with many of the players graduating from the Under-19 ranks to face the toughest examination of their talent to date on the 10-week trip.

They face one three-day match and three one-day games against Kenya's national side in the opening two weeks of the tour. They then continue onto Sri Lanka for an unofficial three-Test series against their A team followed by three one-day internationals.

It is a gruelling test for a squad with 10 players aged under 21 and an important step in their development as manager Graham Gooch and coach Mike Gatting assess their potential.

The majority of the senior tour to West Indies have all previously featured on A tours and last year's trip to Australia identified Adam Hollioake, Dean Headley and Mark Butcher as future Test players with all three breaking through last summer.

ENGLAND A SQUAD (Tour to Kenya and Sri Lanka): N V Knight (capt, Warwickshire), D A Cosker (Glamorgan), M A Ealham (Kent), A Flintoff (Lancashire), A F Giles (Warwickshire), B C Hollioake (Surrey), P M Hutchison (Yorkshire), S P James (vice-capt, Glamorgan), D L Maddy (Leicestershire), D C Nash (Middlesex), J Ormond (Leicestershire), *J C Powell (Essex), C M W Read (Gloucestershire), D J Sales (Northants), *O A Shah (Middlesex), C E W Silverwood (Yorkshire).

* Player to join party after World Youth Cup in South Africa.