Counties Column

A new column from Mark Church

(July/August 2021)

There has been an awful lot of chat recently about England not playing a spinner in the opening two Tests of the summer. Would it have helped?? Probably not unless Jack Leach had made a century at Lord’s and Edgbaston. After England came back from India there was an awful lot of chat about the lack of spinners in this country, but those discussions always happen when England come back from the sub-continent.

I love spin bowling, so the last few weeks for me have been fascinating. Because away from all the England chat, the spinners have been doing damage in the county championship and the T20 and it is wonderful to watch.

Let me take you to the Kia Oval and Surrey against Gloucestershire. I felt, I had been transported back fifty years as Surrey won the toss, batted until tea on the second day and then let their spin twins go to work. To see Amar Virdi and Daniel Moriarty working in tandem is a joy. Ball spinning past either edge, close catchers round the bat, blue skies and the sun shining it was beautiful to watch.

The following week Callum Parkinson spun Leicestershire to victory and his brother, Matt has been going “viral” on social media with some of his big spinning leg breaks this season. Simon Kerrigan picked up a five wicket haul for Northamptonshire ( how good is it to see him taking wickets again) and I was privileged to watch Charlotte Taylor bowl the Southern Vipers to victory in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy with her magnificent drifting off breaks. And Simon Harmer is still doing what Simon Harmer does for Essex.

And in the T20, young Archie Lenham has been making headlines for Sussex and most teams now have at least two spinners in their armoury. Whenever they come on there is always a buzz of excitement around the ground and more often than not, they are opening the bowling these days. Surrey are playing their customary three “Tweakers” in the competition and it makes me smile to think back to the first year of the competition, eighteen years ago, when spinners were booking a two week holiday to Magaluf because they didn’t think they would be needed.

For me there is nothing better than watching quality spinners doing their thing. I know the pitches spun square in India, but it was fun watching Axar Patel and Ravi Ashwin do their thing. They will be back later this summer and I am really looking forward to watching them in tandem, because they will both play, and England’s batsman are still recovering from facing them in India.

Watching Moriaty and Virdi, I did have a little smile to myself. A lack of quality spinners in this country? They are out there. With the schedule this summer, the games “thinkers” have had to wait their turn and for the sun to come out. But if you look in the right places, England do have some quality “rippers of the ball” and long may they continue to do their stuff.