OPENERS Sam Robson and Adam Lyth both smashed centuries while skipper Jonathan Trott failed as England Lions began their tour of South Africa with a dominant batting display on day one of their warm-up clash with Gauteng Invitation XI in Soweto yesterday.
Middlesex’s Robson struck 109 while Yorkshire run-machine Lyth amassed 106 as the pair shared an opening stand of 176 before both retired following their three-figure milestones. England finished on 361-4.
It was not all plain sailing for England’s second string as Trott, playing his first match on foreign soil since leaving England’s tour of Australia last winter with a stress-related illness, made just six.
There is particular focus on the form of the Lions’ opening duo with an England Test place at stake once the longer format on the game returns from its World Cup-enforced hiatus.
Robson is currently the man in possession after making his Test debut against Sri Lanka last June but he failed to score the volume of runs to guarantee his place at the top of the order when England face West Indies in Antigua in April.
Despite notching his maiden Test ton against the touring Sri Lankans at Headingley, the 25-year-old’s technique came under the spotlight after averaging just 23 in the five-match series against India.
Robson will be feeling the heat from Lyth who enjoyed his best summer in county cricket last season while scoring 1,489 runs, including six centuries, at a healthy average of 67.68.
If there is any chance of Trott resuming a 49-Test career which has yielded 3,763 runs, the Warwickshire batsman will surely have to fire on the tour of his homeland, which involves two mini Tests against South Africa A.
But it was an inauspicious start for the man trying to rekindle former glories, edging behind for a single figure score and usurped by young upstarts such as Yorkshire’s Alex Lees who resumes today unbeaten on 82.