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Pakistan v England 2022

Who will be England’s second spinner for the Pakistan Test tour?

by Katya Witney 3 minute read

This winter’s Test tour in Pakistan brings the conversation around England selection back to a familiar topic: who will be the second spinner?

Jack Leach is set to lead the spin attack in the subcontinent after featuring in the majority of England’s Test summer, but the first overseas outing for the McCullum-Stokes leadership duo, in subcontinental conditions, will require more than one slow bowler, leaving the options for the second-spinner position unclear.

Since the return of Test cricket to Pakistan in 2019, conditions have not proved to be conducive to spin bowling, with spinners cumulatively averaging 49.20 in the country since then. Nevertheless, on the likely high-scoring pitches, England’s seamers will need adequate respite on the field in subcontinental heat. And even if they don’t pick two spinners in the XI, they will want a back-up to Leach in the squad.


With the domestic scene not awash with options to partner Leach, here’s a look at some of the names who may earn a spot in the squad

Liam Patterson-White – Nottinghamshire

First-class career: 81 wickets @ 28.74, Econ: 2.26
2022: 36 wickets @ 28.77, Econ: 2.42

Patterson-White has been a key part of Nottinghamshire’s 2022 County Championship campaign which will see them crowned Division Two champions this week. He was also selected for an England Lions match against South Africa in August, in which he put in a decent performance with a wicket in each innings. However, selecting two left-arm orthodox bowlers would limit England’s variety in their spin department and leave them with fewer options against left-handed batters. Patterson-White is also useful with the bat, though he falls short of being considered a genuine all-rounder.

Matt Parkinson – Lancashire

First-class career: 132 wickets @ 25.07, Econ: 2.69
2022: 30 wickets @ 30.86, Econ: 2.52

Parkinson’s made his Test debut as a concussion replacement for Jack Leach against New Zealand at Lord’s earlier this year, but hasn’t had a standout season overall. His leg-breaks would give England an attacking option in Pakistan but concerns remain over the slow pace at which he bowls, and his batting is the weakest of England’s spin options. Nevertheless, his magic dismissals will be tempting in conditions where wickets can prove hard to come by.

Dom Bess – Yorkshire

First-class career: 213 wickets @ 32.61, Econ: 2.91
2022: 36 wickets @ 42.88, Econ: 3.15

Despite two five-wicket hauls in Test cricket, Bess has dropped off the radar for England and has not been selected since the final Test against India in 2021. After moving to Yorkshire last year he has been a solid part of their first XI, but has struggled to find consistency this year in a difficult season on the pitch for the club. Even so, as the most successful spinner in this year’s County Championship, in terms of wickets, he is a potential option to be selected this winter.

Liam Dawson – Hampshire

First-class career: 247 wickets @ 34.51, Econ: 2.89
2022: 24 wickets @ 28.33, Econ: 2.59

With three Test caps to his name and providing a handy option with the bat as well, Dawson could fill the role as Leach’s accomplice or deputy. England’s go-to back up spinning option in white-ball cricket, his decent returns for Hampshire in the County Championship this year are also in his favour. Seen as a safe pair of hands who will rarely let the side down, Dawson would balance the England XI well.

Will Jacks – Surrey

First-class career: 24 wickets @ 53.28, Econ: 3.13
2022: 17 wickets @ 47.00, Econ: 3.02

A slightly left-field option, Jacks has played an increased role with the ball for Surrey this year and acted as the second spinner in England Lions’ match against South Africa this summer. His obvious talent with the bat, averaging 54.00 across 11 County Championship games this season show he could bolster England’s batting line-up on flat decks and share the role of second spinner with Joe Root. While not the safest option from a bowling perspective, there could be merit in his selection from a team balance point of view. Jacks’ selection for that Lions game against South Africa show he is in England’s thoughts, and an impressive maiden international outing in the Pakistan T20Is also boosts his case.

Moeen Ali – Worcestershire

First-class career: 382 wickets @ 37.93, Econ: 3.53
2022: N/A

Moeen Ali caused a stir earlier in the summer by describing himself as being “unretired” from Test cricket. It seemed a fairytale ending was being written, with Moeen feeling valued by Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes and able to sign off from the longest format in the land of his grandfather’s birth, while playing an important role with both bat and ball. However, he has since cooled on the idea of a comeback. “I know I said I was unretired this summer after Baz gave me a call,” he wrote for the Daily Mail. “I have had a few conversations with Baz and he is a guy who is very tough to say no to! But I have got to be honest with myself, I retired from Test cricket for a range of reasons. I have not yet decided so let’s see. It is still a few months away but at the moment, my focus is on the opportunity immediately in front of us to prepare and give ourselves the best chance of winning another World Cup for England.”

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