Monday, 9 September 2013

England's spin stocks

The incumbent

Graeme Swann
Still taking as many wickets as ever, but has Graeme Swann lost a little nip from his best? Several times over the summer, Lyon managed more spin out of the same pitch as Swann, who at times seemed to succumb to bowling too quick and flat. The tour to Australia will be a big test for him, and there are less left-handers to feast on than last time.

The immediate backups

Monty Panesar
The Brigton pisser.With all the attributes to be a top class spin bowler, bar perhaps a crucial bit of guile and variation, he's been the long time number two spinner to Graeme Swann since the latter's usurpation of him back in 2008. In that time, he's won games for England in India and had success in the UAE, but recently bombed out as lead spinner in New Zealand and after his embarrassing nightclub incident, was dropped from the Test squad. Still, if he can display any semblance of form out on loan at Essex and prove that he's sorted his mind out, he's a gimme for the Ashes squad down under.

Simon Kerrigan
Despite a disastrous Test début, Simon Kerrigan is still a long term prospect, and if Swann, Panesar and Tredwell were all concurrently injured, you'd suspect he'd  be playing in a Test match. So, from second to fourth choice in the space of five days. Still, he bounced back to take 7-145 for Lancashire, and if he keeps taking more wickets than any other English qualified spinner, he'll make it back.

James Tredwell
As England's backup ODI bowler, he's had plenty of chances through injuries and rest to Graeme Swann, and a single Test in Bangladesh. He's had a pretty poor County Championship season though, struggling for incisiveness. A steady hand, useful in ODIs, and that's about it.

Danny Briggs
Firmly ensconced as the third spinner in England's ODI reckoning, and the immediate backup to Swann in the t20i format. Briggs looks dangerously close to a career as a t20 spinner, despite having a good action and pleasing flight. He needs to have a big season at first-class level to move out of that box.

The outside chances

Scott Borthwick
The Durham man is a leg-spinner of rare promise. His action is wonderful to behold, and England have liked the look of him, giving him three international appearances in the limited overs formats. Borthwick now needs to find regular First-class bowling, maybe at another county. Durham have turned him into a number three batsman this summer, with some success, but if he's to be a test spinner he needs to bowl a lot more. Most Durham games end with him bowling few overs, only for him to be wheeled out on the fourth day and on dustbowls and expected to run through sides. It doesn't work like that.

Adil Rashid
The forgotten man. Now earning his living as a number six batsman and more than part time spinner, there's still some potential there. Sadly, it looks unlikely to be realised, and a fifty wicket season is needed for him to re-insert his name into the debate. That will only happen when he devotes himself to spin over batting.

Ollie Rayner
A tall off-spinner, who by his own admission, used to bowl flat, containing rubbish, has had a wonderful 2013 season, the highest wicket taking English spinner in the first division, and much of this has come from one astounding performance against Surrey, 15-118, the best Championship figures of the summer. For now, it's just time to see whether he can make the most of his natural bounce from a steep height, continue to turn the ball, and push himself into the Lions frame.

George Dockrell
A controversial one, not in the middle of a great season for Somerset, but England have half an eye on him. The Irish international has so far continued to commit to Ireland, but if there continues to be no pathway to test cricket for the Irish, in a few years he could be tempted to switch his allegiance.

Tom Craddock
Yes, I am biased with this one. A young man with a lot of potential, Craddock has had a mixed summer, taking three First-class wickets, six of them against England. Those were First-class wickets when he took them, but the game lost that status after England added extra players to their team. If that game had kept its status, that would give him 9 wickets at 28.89. England seem vaguely interested with him, picking him as a sub fielder for one of the Ashes Test matches. The potential is clear with him, he has the sort of control that most young leggies would die for, and a knack of taking wickets. His time with Essex has been stop-start, never cementing a place despite good performances, and personal issues have kept him out since the end of July. He may be an outside pick for an EPP squad to go Australia. (I am aware of my biases when it comes to Craddock though)

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