The independent voice of cricket

Series Editorial

From Hobbs to Parkinson: England’s recent line of leggies

by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

England have had a tumultuous history with leg-spinners and with Matt Parkinson debuting against New Zealand, we have a look at how their former leggies have fared in the Test arena.

Adil Rashid, 2015-19

60 wickets @ 39.83

The most recent leg-spinner to play for England before Parkinson, Rashid’s high point was his success in Sri Lanka when he was one-third of the spin trio alongside Jack Leach and Moeen Ali who that took England to a famous 3-0 victory. On debut, Rashid recorded figures of of 0-163, but followed it up with a five-wicket haul in the following innings, which made him the first leggie to take a five-for for England since the 1950s.


Mason Crane, 2018

1 wicket @ 193

Whilst Rashid was the last leg-spinner to play for England, Crane was the most recent to debut, making what is so far his only appearance in Test cricket in the final Test of the 2017/18 Ashes at Sydney. Although his figures were far from complimentary, Crane impressed none other than Shane Warne, who described the then 20-year-old as having an action that is “balanced nicely, he has momentum exploding through the crease which is good.” Crane has since struggled for regular playing time at Hampshire in red-ball cricket. At 25, Crane is younger than Parkinson.

Scott Borthwick, 2014

4 wickets @ 20.50

Just as Crane did four years later, Borthwick made his only Test appearance for England in the final match of a heavy Ashes series defeat. He went at more than a run-a-ball but picked up four wickets at a time when he was considered a leggie who batted a bit. In a successful career with Durham and Surrey where he has won County Championships with both clubs, those roles have been reversed as he now operates as a No.3 batter that occasionally bowls. He is currently captain of Durham.

Chris Schofield, 2000

No wickets

Two Test but no wickets, Schofield was fast tracked into the England side at the turn of the century. Schofield didn’t bowl in his first match during at Lord’s in a seam dominated occasion, but sent down 18 wicketless overs in his second. Schofield would have a successful first-class career and make four appearance for England in T20 cricket in 2007.

Ian Salisbury, 1992-2000

20 wickets @ 76.95

Debuting at Lord’s in 1992, Salisbury was the first leg-spinner to play for England in over 20 years and started his career with five wickets in the match including that of Javed Miandad. However, his selection in the England side would be erratic and he would ultimately play just 15 matches across eight years. Whilst his international appearances were sporadic, his first-class record was phenomenal, taking 884 wickets in a 19-year career. Salisbury is now the head coach at Sussex.

Robin Hobbs, 1967-71

12 wkts @ 40.08

Seven Test for England between 1967 and 1971, Hobbs is the sixth most recent specialist leggie for England but last played over 50 years ago for the team. Despite only playing seven Tests, he played 440 first-class games in total, taking 1,099 wickets.

Pre World War Two

All five of England’s most successful leg-spinners made their Test debut before World War Two. Below are their records.

Doug Wright, 1938-51; 108 wickets @ 39.11
Alf Freeman, 1924-29; 66 wickets @ 25.86
Walter Robins, 1929-37; 64 wickets @ 27.46
Len Braund, 1901-08; 47 wickets @ 38.51
Ian Peebles, 1927-31; 45 wickets @ 30.91

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99