England appear to have claimed victory in the first Ashes battle of the summer, with sought-after Sydney-born batsman Sam Robson picked in a Lions development squad on Monday.
Robson, whose mother was born in Nottingham, has been caught in a tug-of-war battle between the rival nations for his services after plundering runs in the Country Championship.
It Robson’s first callup to a national squad, having only qualified for England in August after playing county cricket for Middlesex since 2009.
The 24-year-old is the second-highest runscorer in Division One of the County Championship, scoring 1,180 runs at an average of 47.2.
His eye-catching form this year, coupled with Australia’s far-from-settled Test batting lineup, prompted calls to try and woo the former Australia and NSW under-19s player back home.
Previous attempts were stymied by Robson’s desire to continue playing county cricket, where he sparked his career after being stuck behind a glut of batsman as a teenager in the NSW system.
This, in part, resulted in Cricket Australia relaxing their domestic qualification regulations, allowing dual-nations to appear as a domestic-qualified player in more than one country – believed to be a rule designed specifically to allow Robson to play Sheffield Shield cricket while not giving up his county commitments.
But the attempts appear to have fallen short following Robson’s selection in the `Performance Programme’, a shadow squad which will tour Australia during the Ashes, which start with the Gabba Test on November 21.
It means that Robson could be called on by England coach Andy Flower should form or injury require change to a very settled top order.
England’s 17-man Test squad for the Ashes, also named on Monday, contained few surprises other than the omission of experienced batsman Nick Compton, with the uncapped Gary Ballance and top order specialist Michael Carberry preferred.
“He’s played very well for Yorkshire so it’s not a left-field selection, it’s considered,” England national selector Geoff Miller said of Ballance.
Reliable seamer Graham Onions could also be considered unlucky, with selectors opting for towering quick Chris Tremlett instead, while controversial offspinner Monty Panesar has been included as back-up to Graeme Swann.