Ahmed starred for England at the Under-19 World Cup this year, taking 12 wickets in four games and showcasing his sharply-spun googly. He took 19 wickets in the group stages of the Blast, the most of any right-arm legspinner, and will be given an opportunity as one of two frontline spinners in the Lions squad.
The two fixtures against South Africa clash with England’s ODIs against India and a round of County Championship games. Mo Bobat, the ECB’s performance director, thanked the counties for their “collaborative approach… enabling us to field strong teams”.
“It’s always great when we can bring some of our best and highest potential players together, particularly to take on senior international opposition,” Bobat said. “The two games provide an excellent opportunity to continue to grow our depth and assess players’ readiness for England.
“The squad reflects a balance of England’s next best players and some future players of note, as well as high performers from this season’s Vitality Blast campaign.” Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant coach, will act as head coach.
The ECB said that the first fixture at Taunton on July 12 will “permit full squad participation” to help South Africa prepare for the ODI series, but the second game at New Road will be played as an 11-a-side List A game.
England Lions squad: Tom Abell (captain), Rehan Ahmed, Tom Banton (wk), Sam Cook, Ben Duckett, Stephen Eskinazi, Sam Hain, Adam Hose, Benny Howell, Jake Lintott, David Payne, George Scrimshaw, Will Smeed
Fixtures: July 12 – 1st 50-over match, Taunton; July 14 – 2nd 50-over match, New Road