Jon Lewis and Gary Palmer have been added to the England Lions coaching team ahead of their trip to Australia.
Lewis, who played one Test and 15 limited-overs matches for England, will replace Chris Silverwood as bowling coach on the tour and will continue to fulfil the role when the squad travels to the Caribbean in the new year. Silverwood has recently been announced as England’s new bowling coach.
Lewis is currently bowling coach at Sussex and has previous experience working with England’s Young Lions programme. He will also have a spell working with Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash once the Australian leg of the Lions tour has finished in mid-December. He will report back to Sussex, who have expressed their enthusiasm for the role, on March 1.
“I am extremely excited about the prospect of coaching the England Lions and the Perth Scorchers,” Lewis said. “I will be working with two world-class head coaches in Andy Flower and Justin Langer, and assisting with the coaching of some of the most talented cricketers in the world.
“I have no doubt that the opportunity of working at this top level will provide diverse, worldwide experiences that will be invaluable to bring back to Sussex for the 2018 season.”
The appointment of Palmer is perhaps more intriguing. ESPNcricinfo revealed two-and-a-half years ago that he had played a significant role in the improved form of Alastair Cook, and, since then, he had continued to carve out a niche as a freelance batting consultant.
There have been times when his philosophy – which is, in short, that technique is an under-developed area in modern cricket and that the old adage about it being a ‘sideways-on game’ is nonsense – has appeared to be at odds with the beliefs of some of those who run things at Loughborough, who seem to take a more laissez-faire attitude towards the development of individual approaches to the game. It is also noticeable that those Palmer works with – and Cook continues to see him regularly – have a more open stance than the traditional coaching manual might recommend. Palmer believes this allows batsmen to play straighter.
His client list – which he keeps secret – includes some very well-known names in international cricket. They generally like to keep his involvement quiet in case it offends, threatens or annoys those in official positions with teams. His involvement with the Lions might well be considered an extended trial under the watchful eye of head coach, Andy Flower.
Both Lewis and Palmer will join up with the Lions squad for a training camp at Loughborough next week before flying to Australia on November 13. The Australian leg of the tour – or extended training camp as it is essentially – ends on December 16.
“Gary has done some work with a couple of senior England players, and we’ve invited him to work with the Lions under our ECB batting lead Graham Thorpe on some specific areas of batting around balance and timing,” Flower said.
“We’re very happy for Chris Silverwood, who has added significantly to our programme in the past, most recently in Sri Lanka last winter, in addition to the success he has had as a head coach with Essex.
“It left us with a vacancy but we are delighted to have an outstanding replacement in Jon Lewis – and we are very grateful to Keith Greenfield and Rob Andrew at Sussex for being so flexible and supportive in moving so quickly to allow Jon to join us now.
“Jon has worked with the Young Lions programme in the past, and in addition to his pedigree as an international bowler, he travelled to Australia with the Lions himself back in 2006, which was my first with the programme as an assistant to Peter Moores.”