England have won four of their 17 matches since the start of 2021, and the absence of a premium slow bowler has been a feature of their poor form.
During that run, England have used three players – Jack Leach, Dom Bess and Moeen Ali – who can be classed as front-line spinners. Moeen has since retired from Test cricket, Bess was not selected for the upcoming series in the West Indies, and have had a reluctance to field Leach in that time – he has not played a home Test since 2019, for instance.
There could be a fresh face in the Caribbean, with uncapped leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson named in the squad, but there remains an opportunity for several other county players to push for a call-up.
Here is a look at some of the slow bowlers who have impressed at domestic level but are yet to be tried by England:
Liam Patterson-White – Nottinghamshire
First-class career: 24 wickets @ 31.20, Econ: 2.62
2021: 46 wickets @ 28.17, Econ: 2.83
Patterson-White played a key role for Notts in their much-improved 2021 Championship campaign. The left-arm orthodox bowler took 24 wickets at an average of 31.20 and was named the county’s Emerging Pro Player of the Season. He is also a handy batter and averaged 31.64 with the bat last year, which included his maiden first-class century against Somerset.
Jack Carson – Sussex
First-class career: 55 wickets @ 32.92, Econ: 3.02
2021: 37 wickets @ 36.10, Econ: 2.97
Joe Root is certainly familiar with Carson’s work as the 21-year-old has dismissed the England captain in first-class cricket. The moment came last April in the County Championship, as Root attempted to drive one of Carson’s flighted off-breaks and was caught behind. The scalp was the most notable in Carson’s short but impressive first-class career, which has yielded 55 wickets in 19 matches.
Amar Virdi – Surrey
First-class career: 119 wickets @ 29.55, Econ: 3.22
2021: 28 wickets @ 34.32, Econ: 3.20
Virdi caught a glimpse of Test cricket last year when he toured Sri Lanka and India as a reserve. The off-spinner, who has 119 first-class wickets at an average under 30, possesses an upright action which generates sharp spin and a variable bounce. His fitness was criticised early in his career by Surrey staff, but Virdi was praised in 2020 by then-head coach Vikram Solanki for his response to the challenge. At 23 and already on England’s radar, a Test career appears within Virdi’s grasp.
Daniel Moriarty – Surrey
First-class career: 35 wickets @ 24.65, Econ: 3.08
2021: 18 wickets @ 28.94 Econ: 2.86
Surrey left-armer Moriarty is less experienced than his team-mate Virdi, but his future may be just as bright. In only six first-class matches, the 23-year-old has amassed 35 dismissals and four five-wicket hauls, with Rob Key among his admirers. Moriarty is on the taller side for a spinner and has proven he can make full use of helpful pitches at home ground The Kia Oval.
Callum Parkinson – Leicestershire
First-class career: 104 wickets @ 36.46, Econ: 3.21
2021: 50 wickets @ 29.04, Econ: 302
Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson may have broken into the England Test squad, but twin brother Callum could give him serious competition soon. Parkinson is an incisive left-arm orthodox bowler, with a long run-up that generates much of his pace and energy. After initially making a name for himself for Leicestershire as a white-ball bowler, Parkinson is now a key weapon for in the longer format and took 50 County Championship wickets in 2021, bettered only amongst spinners by Simon Harmer. Former England captain Nasser Hussain named Parkinson as one to watch in the months ahead.
Danny Briggs – Warwickshire
First-class career: 303 wickets @ 33.37, Econ: 2.96
2021: 30 wickets @ 22.13, Econ: 2.28
After a 12-year county career spent first at Hampshire and then Sussex, Briggs moved to Warwickshire at the beginning of last season to resurrect his red-ball career. After 12 appearances during last year’s Championship campaign, Briggs ended the year with 30 wickets and as a county champion. The left-armer went at a frugal 2.28 runs per over, playing an excellent holding role and bowled his team to victory when conditions allowed. With white-ball international experience that includes a T20 World Cup, a chance at Test level is not out of the question for the 30-year-old.
Matt Critchley – Essex
First-class career: 114 wickets @ 43.05, Econ: 4.01
2021: 32 wickets @ 38.43, Econ: 3.58
Though best classed as a batting all-rounder, Moeen’s retirement has left a vacant spot for a middle-order batter who can bowl spin. With 1,000 first-class runs and 32 wickets last season, there are few better qualified than Matt Critchley. The 25-year-old is an attacking leg-spinner who can leak runs but also take timely wickets. An off-season move from Derbyshire to Essex, which will see Critchley play in Division One for the first time, could help him attract more attention.