It should be unthinkable for any team to tour the subcontinent without three recognised spinners. Somehow, England are intending to take on Pakistan in December with just one.
It’s true to say that Jack Leach faces very few tangible challenges for his test place but is this the right call on the selectors’ part or should there be some established back up?
The Part Time Men
Leach will do the bulk of the spin bowling during the three test series which starts in Rawalpindi on December 1st. Without a full-time spinner to back him up, it’s likely that Joe Root will be called upon as the second slow man.
Beyond Root, skipper Ben Stokes has the option to call upon Will Jacks and Liam Livingstone. Both have used their part time spin to good effect at times in domestic one-day cricket, but they must firstly find a place in the team.
With Alex Lees dropped, there is an opener’s slot up for grabs which Jacks could potentially fill. In terms of Livingstone, England need to find a place in a crowded middle order, but there is a vacancy due to the injury suffered by Jonny Bairstow.
The part time spin options are in place, but will this bizarre approach to selection hurt England’s chances in Pakistan?
England’s Rating in Pakistan
Despite the issues within the spin department, England are likely to start as favourites to win December’s series. Markets are slowly filling up and the top betting sites in 2022 will have the tourists leading the way.
Pakistan and England’s chances can be monitored throughout those three games. Odds are supplied via sources attached to SBO and they will be live throughout the series. All betting operators have a choice of other sports while the majority also publish in-play markets and a mobile app.In most cases, there is a generous welcome package on the table and a range of deposit providers can help with covering qualifying bets.
There are also WTC points at stake, and Pakistan will be keen to do better after failing to take advantage of home conditions earlier against Australia.
Who are the Spinners Looking to Break Through?
England’s squad for the tour of Pakistan suggests that there are no decent spinners coming through, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Many felt that Liam Patterson-White may be included in the party after a successful season for Nottinghamshire in the County Championship.
As Notts won the second division title, Patterson-White claimed 41 wickets, more than any other English qualified spinner.
Elsewhere, the Surrey pair of Dan Moriarty and Amar Virdi have also been spoken of as future England internationals. Moving around the counties, the 2022 season saw impressive displays at times from Leicestershire’s Callum Parkinson and Tom Hartley of Lancashire.
It’s a little surprising that the selectors couldn’t find room for one of those names, even if they were just taken to Pakistan to gain experience.
Is the Spinning Cupboard Bare?
The 15 names in the squad also tell us that England have moved on from Dom Bess and Matt Parkinson. Lancashire leg spinner Parkinson can get exceptional turn, but it’s felt that his delivery is too slow for international cricket.
That leaves Jack Leach as the sole spinner and, in all honesty, the left-armer hasn’t set the spinning world alight with his statistics.
Other reports stated that 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed would find himself on the retained list for the Pakistan tour. The Leicestershire leg spinner is the most promising of England’s crop of youngsters and his maiden century against Derbyshire in September shows that he can bat as well.
The future of English spin bowling isn’t quite so bleak, but this test squad is perplexing and a second spinner in Pakistan conditions isn’t exactly a luxury.