Who should be Englands test spinner?

Whilst the IPL rages on, with some phenomenal matches and the T20 blast restarts in the coming days, England's red ball summer both domestically and internationally is now over with Essex winning the inaugural Bob Willis Trophy.

The biggest question of the English test side must surely be that of the spinner. With Jack Leachs illness over the winter, Dom Bess claimed the shirt as his own, taking a maiden fifor and taking 8 wickets at 25.75.

That's as good as it got for Dom in 2020, whilst impressing with the bat, his bowling this summer did not produce the returns expected. Not aided by Pakistans' and West Indies' line ups of right hand batsmen; he took 8 wickets at 55.5, a dismal return. Nor was he economical going well over 3 runs per over in both series.

Much has been made of Bess' technique and his youth. He is a young man trying to hone a craft on the biggest of stages. Whilst he is greatly improved upon his test debut in 2018, he does not appear ready to take on the mantle.

So who should England have as their spinner?

The main men

There is a lot of noise around Adil Rashid in the commentary boxes at the minute. He has had a superb white ball summer, terrorising Ireland, Pakistan and Australia. Being ecominical and taking wickets. Multiple reasons suggest however that Rashid should not walk back into this England side. Firstly he hasn't played a red ball game for Yorkshire in 3 years and moreover his last outings for England were as a second or third spinner in the West Indies and Sri Lanka 18 months ago. He's played 19 matches for England in test cricket and averages just shy of 40, meaning its not like England have not tried him before. Finally and more importantly is his shoulder. He has had recurrent shoulder problems, whilst seemingly better this year, given his importance to the white ball squads and without proof that he can manage the work load required of a red ball spinner; is it sensible or fair to pick Rashid?

Moeen Ali was Englands premier spinner until a disastrous 2019 where he found himself dropped in both the World Cup campaign and during the Ashes and it hasn't got a lot better for Ali since. ODI figures of 1 for 216 for the calendar year 2020, does not give any credence to the idea that Ali is regaining form with the ball and his ODI batting average of 8 for the calendar year is no better when asking for all round abilities. Ultimately Ali is getting no younger at 33 and with no evidence of an uptick in form, he should be nowhere near the test side at this time.

One of the saviours of Headlingly 2019, Jack Leach can feel rightfully hard done by that he played no part in England's test summer. He averages 29 in test cricket with the ball (the best of the 3 men listed). He had an excellent Ashes series with the ball, outbowling arguably the worlds best spinner in Nathan Lyon. This on the back of a Sri Lanka tour where he had outbowled both Rashid and Ali. Unfortunately for Leach his health issues with complications from his Crohns disease causing sepsis meant he missed parts of the New Zealand tour and the whole of the South Africa tour. Now fully fit and having gone through the whole summers bubble, it is difficult to argue against Leachs selection.

Wild card

The Bob Willis Trophy was an opportunity for young players to get game time and put their credentials forward for the test squad.

Mason Crane infamously has a test cap during the pitiful final test of the 17-18 Ashes series. Such was his loss of confidence and form from that harrowing test, he ended up playing second team cricket for much of the time in between this summer and 2 years ago. Crane however has risen and grown as a player, taking a phenomenal 14 wickets at 13.57. Putting his stake down for selection having been in the 55 man squad at the beginning of this summer.


Who should be England's spinner?

Jack Leach is my pick. He's proven he can take wickets, he's proven he can be economical. It's time to return to Jack Leach.

What do you think? Let us know @insideedgecric on twitter.


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