It’s not a great time for English spin bowling, but it is a great time to be an English spin bowler. That’s “the market” for you, we suppose.
It’s hard to think of a more unexpected England Test selection than Shoaib Bashir – not so much out of left field as out of a hitherto undetected trap door somewhere up in the stands.
The Somerset spinner’s six first-class matches make fellow call-up Tom Hartley look like a grizzled 20-game veteran. Throw in the fact that his 10 wickets have cost 67 runs apiece and you imagine there was quite a lot of, “Oh, okay, um…” from the reporters covering the squad announcement.
Everyone is open-minded. When players are promoted so rapidly, it’s often for a reason. Plus you always wish young players well. It just feels a bit bizarre to be wishing Bashir well at this level of cricket when most of us haven’t yet had a chance to wish him well at any level.
We’ve mentioned this before, but we always think of the exacting interview given by Jon Favreau’s character in My Name Is Earl in these situations. “You got all your fingers…? Do they bend? I’ve been fooled before!”
The requirements to be selected as an England spin bowler seem similarly attainable right now. Playing for Somerset often seems to be a significant qualification. (Dom Bess has really made a bollocks of that one.)
Of course the big unknown here is how many people actually applied for the job this time around. Will Jacks and Liam Dawson are exactly the kinds of batter-spinners England usually hedge their bets with in India, but both will instead play The Lucrative SA20 which is taking place at the same time. (We assume a firm called Lucrative is sponsoring the competition because that’s how it always seems to be described.)
We obviously don’t know the ins and outs of any discussions with these players, but it does strike us that with Ben Stokes again only available as a specialist batter, a spin bowling all-rounder or two might have come in handy from a team balance perspective.
The first Test is in Hyderabad from January 25. Barring “a bug that’s swept through the camp” Bashir surely won’t be playing in it. Will he?
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