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Matt Parkinson and the fate of the English spinner

Lancashire leg spinner Matt Parkinson is 25 and at the time of writing has 127 first-class wickets at an average of 24.

He played his first Test just over a week ago as a concussion substitute, bowling cleanly and collecting 1-47 from nearly 16 overs.

His debut compares favorably to contemporaries such as Mitchell Swepson (2-188 from 62) or Rashid Khan (2-154 from 34), not to mention Bryce McGain’s disastrous only test against South Africa a few years ago. years (0-149 out of 18).

This week, Matt Parkinson was removed from the Test XI as soon as the solid but unspectacular Jack Leach recovered.

The casual observer could be forgiven for thinking the decision was unfair and possibly capricious. But that would be to ignore a crucial fact – Matt Parkinson is an English spinner.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Over the years, England selectors have treated the leggies with the kind of deep distrust usually reserved for ex-convicts or hard-nosed politicians.

Contrary to popular belief, England have produced a number of them over the years, although their tenure at the top level has generally been brief and unspectacular.

Do the names Mason Crane, Ian Salisbury or Chris Schofield mean anything to the average bettor? They are among the group of specialist English leg spinners selected at Test level for the past 20 or so years, and their combined analysis equates to an impressive 21 wickets to 86 in their combined 18 Tests.

The exception that proves the rule, Adil Rashid, of course, carved out a successful one-day career, and at least had a few moments at Test level before his shoulder gave way.

But even then he was often used sparingly, or not played at all, in the home Tests he played.

Going back further, wrist spinners such as Robin Hobbs, Doug Wright and Eric Hollies enjoyed sporadic success.

Wright was the only English leg spinner to take 100 Test wickets in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and sure enough, a misguided Hollies beat Donald Bradman for a duck in his final Test innings.

Johnny Wardle, a left-arm spinner when playing at home, would only spin his dangerous wrist while touring overseas, away from the disapproving eyes of his Yorkshire colleagues.

Compare this sad state of affairs with the production line of leggies to wear green and gold: Warwick Armstrong, Clarrie Grimmett, Bill O’Reilly, Colin McCool, Doug Ring, Richie Benaud, Peter Philpott, Kerry O’Keeffe, Terry Jenner, Jim Higgs, Bob Holland, Peter Sleep, Trevor Hohns, Stuart MacGill and of course the incomparable Shane Warne.

Some are big names, others have had limited success, but in each case the selectors have tried to give them a decent chance at the top level.

So what’s the deal with England and the spinning cuffs? Why are they rarely picked and why are they usually returned to the counties at the first opportunity?

Matt Parkinson and the fate of the English spinner

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Leggies embody the glorious uncertainty of cricket – unplayable one minute, playing a full pitch the next. They are unpredictable, chaotic and utterly fascinating to watch.

All of this doesn’t sit well with the traditional, safety-focused approach to the English game – overall, leggies are a luxury that cannot be afforded and a risky extravagance that should be avoided.

Unfortunately, this self-fulfilling prophecy took hold in England a long time ago. English cricket has no faith in leg spinners and expects them to falter at the top level.

When one is finally chosen, they are doomed.

Matt Parkinson has been part of the English setup for a few years and he is the highest scoring domestic spinner in county play.

He was sent home early from the Australian Ashes tour this summer without playing a match, being deemed surplus to requirements.

Could the new Brendon McCullum-Ben Stokes axis at the pinnacle of English cricket and their apparent commitment to adventurous cricket give the young leggie another chance to prove his worth at Test level?

Based on his recent fall and the sad and sorry story of England’s leg rotation, you wouldn’t bet on it.

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