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Five county spinners who could challenge for Jack Leach’s Test spot

by Seb Evans 3 minute read

Jack Leach‘s Test career has had plenty of ups and downs.

During last winter’s Ashes, the left-arm spinner took six wickets in three Tests at an average of 53.50. His performances Down Under led many to question his ability to control the run rate when put under pressure.

However, in typically gritty fashion, Leach bounced back in the West Indies to end the series as the joint leading wicket-taker; his 11 dismissals in the Caribbean came at 30.81, while he went at less than two runs an over.


But is Leach the long-term solution to England’s spin struggles? This remains a source of debate, so here are five county spinners who may fancy themselves to challenge the Somerset man for a place in the England side this summer.

Matt Parkinson

The perennial drinks carrier, Lancashire’s Parkinson must be beginning to wonder if his Test chance is ever going to come. The leggie received his first England call-up during the 2019 tour of New Zealand and was also in the most recent squad for the West Indies, so he’s clearly in the selectors’ thoughts even if he hasn’t taken his bib off just yet. The 25-year-old’s biggest asset is his ability to spin the ball big, something which gives him a point of difference from other leading contenders for the spin job. In last year’s County Championship, Parkinson took 36 wickets in 11 matches at a mightily impressive average of 20.55, and was tipped as a future Test spinner by the late, great Shane Warne.

Mason Crane

Another leg-spinner, Crane was thrown in at the deep end when, aged 20, he was handed his Test debut in the last match of the 2017/18 Ashes. That remains his only Test appearance, and the Hampshire man’s overall first-class record, at first glance, is nothing to call home about; he averages 41.36 in red-ball cricket. But that doesn’t tell the story of his performances over the last year and the improvement he seems to have made to his game. In the 2021 County Championship, Crane took 23 wickets at 25.52 and has said he has his mind set on a return to the Test arena. If he continues his upward trajectory, he could merit a recall in the not too distant future.

Callum Parkinson

The sometimes forgotten brother of Matt, Callum Parkinson is an excellent county bowler in his own right. While the left-armer may not bowl the Warne-esque leg-breaks his brother does, Callum had a record-breaking season of his own last summer, becoming the first English spinner to take 50 wickets in a single County Championship season since 2017. That remarkable performance wasn’t enough for a Lions call-up over the winter, however, with Crane and brother Matt chosen as the support acts to Dom Bess and Leach in the main squad.

Dom Bess

After enjoying a whole summer as England’s first-choice spinner in 2020, Bess has since fallen a couple of spots down the pecking order. Despite taking 17 wickets at an average of 26.58 in Sri Lanka and India in 2021, the Yorkshire spinner struggled with controlling his lengths and was displaced by Leach as England’s primary tweaker. While he made it onto last winter’s Ashes tour after a solid first season with the White Rose, Bess was omitted from the touring party for the West Indies.  What adds to his appeal is his impressive ability with the bat down the order; he’s hit one hundred and eight fifties so far in his first-class career.

Danny Briggs

Briggs remains uncapped in Test cricket but has bags of red-ball experience to fall upon. Warwickshire’s 30-year-old left-armer has taken more than 300 first-class wickets and resurrected his red-ball career since leaving Hove for Edgbaston; he played a significant role in his side’s County Championship-winning season in 2021. The last of his England appearances was in a T20I against Australia in Hobart in 2014, but he received an ODI call-up last year, which suggests he remains a name in discussion for higher honours.

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