Hales, Plunkett push for Test selection

England

Batsman Alex Hales and fast bowler Liam Plunkett staked impressive claims ahead of Thursday's announcement of England's Test squad for this month's first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's in London.

Batsman Alex Hales and fast bowler Liam Plunkett staked impressive claims ahead of Thursday's announcement of England's Test squad for this month's first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's in London.

The uncapped Hales struck a masterful 167, which spanned a mere 133 deliveries and featured 18 fours and six sixes, in Nottinghamshire's County Championship Division One clash against Sussex in Hove.

Plunkett, who has not played Test match cricket since June 2007, continued a fine stretch of form this season by snaring a telling second-innings four-wicket haul in Yorkshire's big victory over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

The squad for the series opener will likely include 13 players, with captain Alastair Cook, batsman Ian Bell, fast bowler James Anderson and all-rounder Joe Root among the near certainties.

Former captain Nasser Hussain recently suggested the inexperienced Tymal Mills be selected. Left-arm fast bowler Mills was deployed during practice sessions across the recent tour of Australia, as England's batsmen prepared to combat southpaw seamer Mitchell Johnson.

"I'd also like to see England be a little bolder in their selections. We won't learn much by beating Sri Lanka at home with our 80 miles per hours seaming the Duke's ball around," Hussain wrote in the <i>Daily Mail</i>.

"So I just hope we're keeping an eye on the likes of Tymal, who can bowl with serious pace. Sure, he may not work out. But we already know what a guy like Tim Bresnan can do. We need to see if players like Mills are up to international cricket."

The presence of opening batsman Michael Carberry, meanwhile, remained in the balance 24 hours prior to the announcement. The Zimbabwean-born Gary Ballance and Barbados-born Chris Jordan are also in contention.

Fast bowler Stuart Broad and all-rounder Ben Stokes are doubtful, amid respective knee and hand injury concerns. Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior, sidelined by an Achilles injury, isn't likely to be selected, with the talented Jonny Bairstow or ODI and T20I wicketkeeper Jos Buttler pushing for the berth.

"I would have no hesitation in throwing Buttler into the first Test at Lord's next week. This is yet another example of the sort of Englishness I've seen time and time again, where we concentrate on what someone cannot do rather than what they can. And what Buttler can do is absolutely fantastic," erstwhile coach David Lloyd added to the <i>Daily Mail</i>.

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