Matt Parkinson out to compete for Ashes spot despite England’s leg-spin ‘nerves’

Matt Parkinson Lancashire PA
Matt Parkinson in action for Lancashire

Matt Parkinson is desperate to be the man who cures the England Test team’s “nervousness” of leg-spin and has not given up hope of forcing his way into the forthcoming Ashes series.

Parkinson was not named in the senior squad for the tour but there was the considerable consolation of a Lions call-up for the trip to Australia, as well as the chance to push for promotion.

He sent down three overs in a rain-shortened first day of an internal warm-up match on Monday and will be hoping for a better chance to press his case as preparations ramp up with a four-day clash next week.

As well as opposition, the Lions are also there to provide genuine competition to the Test team and, with no wrist-spinner in Joe Root‘s 17-strong party, the big-turning Lancastrian has everything to play for.

Parkinson has played one-day international cricket for England
Parkinson has played one-day international cricket for England (Martin Rickett/PA)

There are plenty of England fans who would be happy to see him retained ahead of the series opener at The Gabba, particularly if the social media reaction to his initial omission is any indication.

“I guess I was slightly gutted not to get into the Ashes squad, but Twitter was funny that day… it felt like I was pretty popular for a while on there,” he told the PA news agency.

Test door is open

“You do take it with a pinch of salt, but I think if I had been named in the squad there would have been a few cricket badgers pretty happy about it.

“I’m pleased to be out with the Lions but hopefully I can stay on. I’m not ruling it out and I think all of the lads would say the same. The door is open and if we perform well in these matches, score a hundred, take a five-for… who knows?

“Rooty has seen plenty of me because I bowled about 3,000 balls to him in the nets in India last winter. I’d like to show Joe and Spoons (head coach Chris Silverwood) that I’ve improved this year so they think ‘let’s keep him here’.”

Parkinson made a few more additions to a growing portfolio of magic dismissals over the summer – one to Northamptonshire’s Adam Rossington that can be found by searching “ball of the century” and another to Pakistan’s Imam-ul-Haq that rewrote the record books of analysts CricViz by clocking 12.1 degrees of spin.

Such highlights have drawn leg-spin doyen Shane Warne to fight Parkinson’s corner, but the English Test side’s thin record with the craft in modern times acts as as counterweight to that buzz.

“I don’t even know if Shane Warne has seen me bowl with a red ball, but it’s nice to see the press I’ve had from him. He was a superstar and everyone wants their own version,” he said.

“English people want leg-spinners to play Test cricket too… but there’s a disconnect. Maybe it would have been easier now for me and Mason Crane if someone had come along and done consistently well.

“But, because nobody has really come in and smashed it, there is always going to be that mystery or intrigue.

Australian great Shane Warne has pressed the case for Parkinson's inclusion
Australian great Shane Warne has pressed the case for Parkinson’s inclusion (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Adil Rashid is great and I think if he had played Test cricket for the last few years his record would be really good, but he hasn’t.

“Then you are going back to Chris Schofield or Ian Salisbury (who both made their final appearances in 2000).

Nerves around picking spinners

“For guys like Jack Leach or Dom Bess, people know the likes of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar have done well and there isn’t that nervousness about picking them. I think there is a bit of nerves around picking us.”

While Rashid ultimately chose to become a limited-overs specialist – and has a World Cup winner’s medal to show for it – Parkinson insists he will always be committed to long-form cricket, regardless of whether he ever wears England whites.

“I don’t think I’ll ever go down that route. I love playing red-ball cricket for Lancashire,” he said.

“For me the dream is still Test cricket but even if that doesn’t happen, I’ll continue to play it for the rest of my career.”