For fans angered by England's poor displays in their last Test and ODI Series, the England Lions' recently completed tour of India provided a few encouraging signs. However, in the Duleep Trophy, after winning their opening game England collapsed meekly on the final day of their second match when the final was in their sights. They then won two of their three limited-overs games.
Michael Carberry's career has frequently promised much but he now appears to be realising his potential. After averaging 50 in first-class cricket last season, he struck centuries in both the Duleep Trophy and a one-day game. If he has a successful time opening in the Friends Provident Trophy group stages, he could earn a ODI callback as an aggressive opening batsman. At 27, he is entering his prime years.
Of the other batsmen, captain Mike Yardy hit a big century in the Duleep Trophy but is palpably not international class, while Jonathan Trott did little of note and the great hope Joe Denly struggled. However, Ed Joyce, so impressive in scoring 107 against Australia last year, reminded the selectors of his talents. Overall though this was probably not the best batting line-up England could muster of those not involved with the national side. Rob Key and Ed Smith, both of whom would have been better as captains than Yardy, given that they have greater class and more chance of featuring internationally.
The great England wicket-keeper debate shows no sign of abating, but James Foster endured a miserable tour with the bat which will end his short-term hopes of playing another Test.
With the ball, the veteran Alan Richardson was impeccable, claiming six wickets in his only first-class match, before being unfairly dropped for Liam Plunkett, and doing well in the one-dayers too. However, as he is near 33 it is unlikely he will be called upon, barring a severe injury crisis. Plunkett was most disappointing, and was outshone by Durham team-mate Graham Onions. Onions took 7-39 in a heroic display in the one-dayer England lost and, for want of other options, has a chance of winning a ODI debut next season.
The tour's big winner, however, was Adil Rashid. With six wickets at 18 in the Duleep Trophy, he outbowled Monty Panesar. His batting was fantastic; he displayed tremendous maturity in both forms of the game. For the first time in his career, Rashid made significant strides in the limited-overs game and how England would love him in their ODI side come the 2011 World Cup.