This blog is essentially looking at the collision of hectic schedules and a pending injury to Graeme Swann’s elbow (which contributed to his Headingley absence arguably) to try and look at some replacements if he ever were to take a break for either injury or scheduling reasons.
England’s schedule in the coming year is hectic. This current the South Africa series, the ODI series, the World T20 (away), India (away), New Zealand (away), New Zealand Z (home), Champions Trophy (home) Australia (home). Australia (home). This correlates in the next 12 to14 months as roughly 17 tests, 20 ODIs, a T20 World cup, Champions Trophy, up to 18 individual T20’s. That’s up to 123 days of International cricket for England when compared to a team like Pakistan who have 3 tests, 8 ODIs, and up to 11 T20s in addition to the champions trophy and T20 world cup i.e. around 34 days of international cricket plus the tournaments.
England have stocks of good quick bowlers but there would be a much relished opportunity for a replacement spinner. If Swann were to take a rest from this schedule or suffer an injury as a result of it, the next in line spinner would have to step up. Baring in mind we need him for the back to back Ashes, he must be protected in a sense, so in ODI and T20 formats especially an opportunity could arise in particular.
Championship winning spinner Kerrigan had a hugely successful first class season last year playing alongside the soon to retire Gary Keedy . Kerrigan picked up 24 wickets at a misely average of 18.20. So far in 2012 he has 35 wickets at an average just on 30 in the championship. Kerrigan isn’t as strong a bowler in T20 and the CB40, so he looks like more of a replacement for Tests.
‘Briggs and Borthwick’ are both exciting young spinners (with a lot more to learn) due to their ability to both take wickets and bowl economically. In terms of first class cricket they are not ‘out of this world’ and are not on the list of ‘most wickets’, but their limited overs careers are arguably more impressive. In the FLT20 Borthwick is one of the leading spinners taking 12 wickets at 20 in 2012. A consistent performer in limited overs.
Likewise Briggs has taken 10 wickets in the CB40 so far at an average of 27, but his overall career stats now higher than 32 for an average. He has already had a shot with England but nothing substantial. He needs to mature, but is another in the line of good left arm spinners. Briggs in the counties last year took wickets but was going at over 36, compared to Borthwick who took less but went for less. In my view, for two young spinners stats can be misleading as they take time to mature and get a better armory. Perhaps it isn’t quite their time therefore, but they need to go round the county circuit a few more times to warm up the tires? At the moment i would say Borthwick is ahead of Briggs.
I am personally pretty worried about this. We have clearly not got great spin stocks and we are looking at these two young bowlers as possible options. There is not really any 29 or 30 year old spinners that could be brought in having already played a bit of county cricket. A lot of inexperience seems to be the only option
Two men are currently in possession of test matches are arguably Panesar and Tredwell.
Monty is an experienced bowler with over 100 test wickets, but he is a test match bowler and a relatively one dimensional one at that. He dosn’t change pace too much and in his fall from test superiority he became predictably easy to play. He has been prolific taking 70 wickets last year at 27 which is below his first class average of 31. He played well in Abu Dabi and Dubai taking 7 wickets in each match in addition to 2 in his solitary game in Sri Lanka. He is a good fall back arguably but is he still England’s number 1 spin replacement? I don’t think he is threatening enough really but who else do England actually have?
Tredwell took only 42 first class wickets in 2011 and is nowhere to be seen in 2012. Averaging 17 in domestic One day cricket cricket with the bat and 32 with the ball he is a solid bowling allrounder but not a front line spinner. In his only test thus far, he took 4/82 and hit a nice 37. He offers something with experience being 31. But he is not going to rip through a good batting lineup.
Irishman, George Dockrell could be a gem in a test match (as i have said in previous blogs) . As long as Ireland are only a ODI and T20 side, any Irish player is likely to want to play the highest form of test cricket especially at the tender and naive age of 19. Dockrell so far this year has taken 29 wickets at under 25 in domestic FC cricket. He is a fantastic top spinner of the county championship and if it weren’t for his Irishness i think he would be in as quickly as you could say Monty Panesar.
Samit Patel is picked as a batting allrounder and i doubt many would class him as a genuine spinner.
Gareth Batty in my view has really improved. He has been successful in both T20 and Cb40 picking up wickets at an average of just 14 in this years T20 competition. Most importantly he is one of the most economical bowlers around. He goes at under 4.96 which is incredible for rock bottom side Surrey. He was included in the 30 man squad but it is hard to see him going further than this WC.
England need a replacement that would satisfy a specific role. Either taking wickets or a spinner that keeps it tight. Swann has does both but i don’t feel any of the above could both and do it in all three forms. T20 is of course a whole new kettle of fish. England need a specialist and i have two suggestions. One Borthwick or Briggs (or both in the sub continent) as they both have good records and experience at domestic level now or secondly.. you may find this odd but Gareth Batty of Surrey despite being 34 has a cracking record and we could eak the last bit out of him before he peters out to a nearly but not quite kind of player. He has been brilliant for Surrey.
England are in a very tough situation in the sense that none of the aforementioned spinners are anywhere near the quality of England’s spin sensation Graeme Swann in any form. Monty Panesar is arguably the closes to test quality but it is a little bit bleak for the future.
Bowling stats correct as of the 2nd August 2012