Here’s the latest post in my breakdown of the England cricket team and those players competing in each department. Please click on the cricket category/tag to read previous posts.
When it comes to spin bowling, I’d always want the variety of a slow-left-armer, off-spinner and leg-spinner in my squad. These skills might be via all-rounders but before we consider part-timers.
Slow-left-armer Jack Leach is England’s incumbent Test spinner but is possibly too nice a guy that he’s been easy to leave out when he shouldn’t have been. He’s also an extremely technically correct batsman.
Matthew Parkinson, bizarrely criticised by some for bowling too slowly, would be my leg-spin option. On the off-spin front, I’d have Dom Bess back at the front of the queue. He’s gone to Yorkshire, played regularly in all formats (I always found it weird that he didn’t play white-ball for Somerset… just like I find it weird that Mathew Renshaw can open the bowling in the Big Bash but Jack Leach only recently made his T20 debut!)… sorry, back to Bess… and taken wickets. Surrey’s Amar Virdi hasn’t set the world on fire recently. As for Moeen Ali, I long championed him before he played for England but his Test batting is unreliable, limited overs batting kamikaze and he’s hardly bowled in white-ball cricket in recent times let alone red-ball! He’s still a fine player but I find the attention to his omission rather over the top.
In limited overs cricket, poor Liam Dawson can’t get a break. The Hampshire man keeps getting selected in squads but not in the XI. Would he have actually got a game against Pakistan? Who knows but if a slow-left-armer does play it’ll be T20 Blast all-time leading wicket taker Danny Briggs. Samit Patel has performed well this year too, opening the bowling as he often does. Tom Smith is another left-armer who sits high on the all-time list. Don’t forget Aaron Nijjar either. Aged 26, he’s still relatively inexperienced but has stepped up on the big occasion and been a consistent performer for Essex.
When it comes to leg-spin, Adil Rashid continues to perform but I’d be looking towards Matthew Parkinson in ODI and T20Is. He can take some Tao but he’s got some magic balls in him! Don’t forget one Test cap Mason Crane though, who has actually performed well in domestic white-ball cricket. He should probably have never played that Test match in Australia. That appearance and injuries haven’t helped him but he does take wickets. Nathan Sowter is another viable option.
As for off-spin, Moeen Ali has not let anyone down in white-ball cricket (In fact he’s been quite economical recently) and Bess could do with gaining a bit more game time at domestic level. With The Hundred clashing with the One-Day Cup though, will players gain much fifty-over experience?
Joe Root, Dan Lawrence, Liam Livingstone and Will Jacks are just some of England’s part-time options. There’s also a crop of young spinners announcing themselves on the circuit but the sample size regarding their performance is still relatively small in order to make a fair judgement on their ability to step up-to international level.
Who do you think should be England’s first choice spin bowlers?
Disclaimer: This post was originally scripted prior to the England vs. Pakistan ODI series but fell behind in my scheduling.