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South Africa v England

Why England may eventually rue their lack of white-ball spin depth

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

A year out from the 2021 T20 World Cup, England are rightly regarded as one of the tournament favourites.

Finalists at the 2016 World T20, winners of the 2019 World Cup and the number 1 and 2 ranked side in ODI cricket and T20I cricket respectively – there isn’t, arguably, a more consistent international limited overs set-up.

But on the most recent Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, the panelists – regular host Yas Rana, Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine editor Jo Harman and Wisden Cricket Monthly staff writer James Wallace – highlighted a potential blindspot in England’s preparations ahead of the 2021 tournament set to be held in India – a lack of cover for Adil Rashid after England didn’t include a back-up wrist-spin option in their squad for their upcoming tour of South Africa.

Here’s how the discussion panned out:

Yas Rana: There’s no back-up wrist-spinner to Adil Rashid. Are you surprised by that? Do you think England should have looked to someone else [as cover] in the event of an injury to Adil Rashid?

James Wallace: That is an area where they could come up short. They’re probably relying on getting bits and pieces overs from the likes of Moeen Ali. Are they possibly thinking that the wickets might not be conducive to spin and they’ll just try and get by? It seems a bit of a risk.

YR: I just think that obviously in a first choice XI Rashid plays every time. It’s more in the event of England going to a T20 World Cup and Adil Rashid picks up an injury…I can’t think of a decent T20 side in recent years that doesn’t have an excellent wrist-spinner. England do have alternative options there; Matt Parkinson has played a little bit for England done well, Mason Crane who played for England three years ago had a really good summer and I thought there was a chance that he might be brought back into the mix. That’s a real risk. If Adil Rashid picks up an injury, I don’t know how England cover that.

JW: Rashid has control as a leg-spinner whereas the other two have done reasonably well when they’ve played but they don’t offer the same amount of control as a wrist-spinner. Just trying to sneak through a few overs with a tweaker becomes a more appetising prospect.

JH: They might have taken Liam Dawson, possibly, who wasn’t available through injury. When I listened in on that press conference with Ed Smith after that squad announcement he said that the door was still very much open for Dawson and Joe Denly as two players I think that they trust, they don’t necessarily feel like they need to see much more of them.

But he said if there was an opportunity and there was a big tournament around the corner they wouldn’t think twice about putting them in and I think that’s probably why they’ve gone down this route. I agree though, it does seem strange not to have a young spinner to at least…especially if England have already won the series and you’ve got a dead rubber, it seems like a good opportunity with big tournaments around the corner to get a bit of international experience.



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