Sunday, July 15, 2007

Adil Rashid and the history of English leg-spin

This blog has long entertained great hopes for Adil Rashid, the Yorkshire leg-spinner. He did not set the outfield on fire at Chelmsford, playing for England Lions against India, but time is on his side.

But if time is on his side, history isn't. Because it is an awful long time since England had a test class leg-spinner.

Chris Schofield was tried in 2000, playing two tests against Zimbabwe. In the first he didn't get a bowl: in the second he didn't get a wicket. He subsequently dropped out of county cricket, though this year he has been playing for Surrey and has even been named in England's preliminary squad for the Twenty20 world cup. Maybe his story is not over.

In the 1990s people had great hopes for Ian Salisbury, but he failed to make it as a test bowler. In the 1960s there was Robin Hobbs: in the 1950s Tommy Greenhough. Neither made the grade, though in four tests the latter took 16 wickets @ 22.31, which isn't so shabby.

So we are back to 1940s. Everyone remembers that Eric Hollies bowled Bradman second ball in the Don's final test, and his figures - 44 wickets @ 30.27 - are reasonably impressive. But it looks as though we have to go back to Doug Wright for an England leg-spinner with an extended test career. D.V.P. played 34 tests and took 108 wickets, though they did cost him nearly 40 runs each.

There may be names I have forgotten, and there have also been batsmen who bowled leg-spin a little too. One such is Bob Barber, and it is worth remembering that Mike Atherton was once a promising wrist spinner too. As a youngster, he once took 50 wickets in a season and won a Roses match before his back gave out and he stopped bowling.

So, while Adil Rashid is an exciting prospect, he has a lot of history to defy if he is to make it as an England bowler.

1 comment:

Paul Linford said...

It was a huge shame about Athers' back. He could have been a truly great all-rounder had he been able to develop his leg-spinners.