Eastbourne’s Ollie Rayner has been called up for the England Lions squad for their tour of Sri Lanka later this month.
The Middlesex spinner, 28, who previously played for Sussex and Eastbourne, comes in from to the squad from standby in place of the injured Simon Kerrigan, who is ruled out with a back injury.
Rayner will travel with the squad, which is due to arrive on the sub-continent on January 27, for two three-day warm-ups ahead of three four-day matches against Sri Lanka A.
And after a superb season for Middlesex, he is delighted that his form has been rewarded with international recognition.
“I am absolutely ecstatic,” Rayner said. “My chances were 50-50 so I wasn’t getting carried away. I was a bit surprised to get the call and obviously my commiserations go out to Simon but I couldn’t be happier. A week ago I was training up in Finchley in the pouring rain, it came out of nowhere really and I can’t quite believe it”
Rayner took 46 wickets at 22.04 in the LV= County Championship last season and with Graeme Swann now retired from international cricket, the call-up represents an opportunity for Rayner to stake a claim for a place in the full England squad.
His former team mate Monty Panesar looked nailed on for the spot, but as Rayner revealed, the spot could well be up for grabs. He is, however, not getting ahead of himself and wants to concentrate solely on performing on the tour.
“With Swann retiring there’s no obvious second pick,” he added. “Panesar was probably the favourite but they don’t seem to have pursued him so it’s game on now for that spot. I’m not getting myself carried away though, my aim is just to enjoy the ride.”