Friday, 5 June 2015

Not enough spin

Naturally, I am not talking about the practitioners of rotational medicine in politics, of whom there are already far too many. The subject is the decline of slow bowling in English cricket, both at the national level and in England and Wales at county level.

Graeme Swann opined on the most recent Test Match Special that Moeen Ali, a man who started off as a batsman and part-time spinner, was the most effective England-qualified off-break bowler. The top eleven wicket-takers in the championship last year were either pace bowlers or foreign-qualified or both. The twelfth was Abdul Rashid of Yorkshire a practitioner of right-arm leg-spin, a craft which has suffered an even steeper decline.

One would have expected that around fifteen years of four-day county matches would have encouraged spin bowlers who tend to come into their own towards the end of matches. I put it down to the timidity of captains and the longer time which has to be devoted to the development of young spinners in this era when the financial backers of the counties want to see instant success. In this context I was sad to see that the county of Don Shepherd, Jim McConnon, Peter Walker and Robert Croft now has a policy of playing a single spinner and that Andrew Salter has come into the reckoning so late in the season.  Spin bowlers operate well in pairs, especially if their styles are different - think Laker and Lock. I trust that the Glamorgan selectors will look at the evidence from the historical record at St Helen's and pick both Cosker and Salter for the match in Swansea on 6th August.

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