Looking Ahead To The Ashes: Spinners

A look ahead to the Ashes tour that will end a very hectic year for England, with a particular focus on the spin bowling aspect. Also some photographs.

At the end of this year, after two more tests in India plus a busy home summer, England head to Australia for what Huw Turbervill in a book of that name called “The Toughest Tour” – an away Ashes series. With nothing else of significance happening in the cricket world today I am going to look ahead to that tour, and in what will be a long piece show what England should do spinners wise.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LEFT ARM SLOW TO MEDIUM PACED BOWLERS

Only once in all of England’s successful tours has the party not included a left arm bowler in the slow to medium pace bracket, the very first ever in 1882-3. In 1884-5 and 1887-8 and again in 1894-5 two left arm orthodox spinners in Bobby Peel and Johnny Briggs were present and both were test regulars during those tours. In 1903-4 Wilfred Rhodes, another left arm orthodox spinner, was a key performer, including a 15 wicket match haul at Melbourne (with eight catches dropped off him into the bargain!) In 1911-2 the bowling was largely dominated by Frank Foster and Syd Barnes, but Frank Woolley, an all rounder whose bowling stock-in-trade was left arm orthodox spin was far from insignificant. In 1928-9, JC ‘Farmer’ White, a left arm orthodox spinner was crucial to England’s success, bowling huge numbers of overs (130 across the two innings of the Adelaide match alone), going at around two an over and taking a good haul of wickets. In 1932-3, although Harold Larwood was the dominant bowling force, Hedley Verity, a left arm orthodox spinner played in four of the five test matches and skipper Jardine was at pains in his own book about that tour, “In Quest of The Ashes” to emphasize his importance to England. In 1954-5 Tyson and Statham were the dominant bowlers, but Johnny Wardle a left arm spinner who could bowl either orthodox or wrist spin (although Hutton’s conservatism as captain meant he was largely confined to the former on that tour) took 10 wickets at 22.9 a piece in a support role. In 1970-1 John Snow was England’s key bowler, but Derek Underwood bowling left arm slow-medium with cut rather than spin as his principle weapon was an important part of the supporting cast. In 1978-9 Philippe-Henri Edmonds, left arm orthodox spin, had a bust up with skipper Brearley and did not play any test matches, with the spinning roles entrusted for those games to Emburey and Miller. In 1986-7 Edmonds was there again in partnership with Emburey and was very important to England’s success, snagging the prize scalp of Border five times in the series. In 2010-11 England used off spinner Graeme Swann in a holding role, in which he took 15 wickets at 39 a piece, but only went for 2.5 an over, while left arm orthodox spinner Monty Panesar was kept on the sidelines, although he was part of the tour party. England have not won down under since that tour.

In 1946-7 England lacked a test class left arm slow to medium bowler, and at one point in that series Bill Voce, left arm fast medium, was asked to attempt orthodox spin as England were getting desperate – scoreline Aus 3, Eng 1, 1 high scoring draw (Morris for Aus and Compton for Eng notching a brace of centuries a piece in that one at Adelaide). In 1962-3 three off spinners were selected in the tour party and no one else who could bowl high class spin (Barrington’s leg breaks would have been the next highest ranking spin option), and England drew the series, not enough to get the Ashes back. In 1982-3 once again three off spinners carried the slow bowling burden – Marks, Miller and Hemmings, with only Hemmings selected purely on the basis of his bowling, and ironically he would produce the highest individual score any of the three managed in the series – 95 in the final match at Sydney as nightwatchman, and England lost the series after having won three successive Ashes contests, and they were to win the next two after it as well.

Thus, there have been only three occasions on which England have won down under without a left arm slow to medium pace bowler playing for them in at least some test matches, and only once, in 1882-3 when they have done so without such a bowler in the party.

Therefore, a bowler of that type can be considered necessary. Jack Leach, left arm orthodox spin, now has 56 wickets from 14 test matches at an average of 30.37, and is obviously improving, so he has to be first pick for a spinner’s berth in the tour party assuming he is fit to play. There are few obvious like for like substitutes for him, but Liam Patterson-White if he plays a full season and does well (at the moment after five first class games he has a bowling average at that level of 21.00) could well be a strong candidate, and Lewis Goldsworthy, a left arm orthodox spinner who can also bat, has had a good Under 19 World Cup and has fared well in the few senior games (all T20s) that he has been given. I hope he gets a full season this summer, and maybe if he performs brilliantly he will merit a place in the tour party. The person with the best first class average among English spinners who have played more than a handful of matches at that level is leg spinner Matt Parkinson, and I would think he should travel as designated second spinner, although only Sydney and Adelaide of Australian venues are remotely likely to produce surfaces justifying the selection of two specialist spinners.

1932-3: A TEMPLATE FOR SUCCESS IN THE 21ST C.

In 1932-3 England travelled with a battery of pace bowlers, two specialist spinners (Verity, left arm orthodox, and Tommy Mitchell, leg spin). They won the series 4-1, with Verity playing in four of the matches (nos 1,3,4 and 5). Mitchell was a less significant figure but what he was asked to do he did well. Incidentally, the one match Verity was not selected for demonstrates that Australia were not the innocent victims they like the world to believe that they were in that series: the pitch for the state game (yes, young folk, back in the day touring teams played matches against local first class sides as well as international fixtures) at Melbourne had been super fast, so when the second test was played there Jardine left Verity out to play a full battery of pace bowlers, Bill Bowes coming in for the only time of the series. On the first morning a delivery from Harold Larwood broke through the rolled top surface of the pitch and raised a puff of dust. By the fourth innings the pitch was turning square and Ironmonger (left arm orthodox spin) and O’Reilly (leg spin) were basically unplayable.

A standard England attack in Australia with their current resources could feature two out of Archer, Stone and Wood, one of Anderson and Broad, and Leach as the spin option, with Woakes also in the equation if one wants to avoid an overly long tail. In the unlikely event of a pitch requiring two specialist spinners Parkinson would come in for one of the quicker bowlers.

I will be keeping an eye out over the coming home season for Lewis Goldsworthy and Liam Patterson-White among others to see if they can genuinely force their way into the equation, but at the moment it is hard to see anyone other than Leach as first choice spinner in Australia, with Parkinson designated second spinner. I will make on cautionary remark in the context of Goldsworthy, and also the young opener Tom Lammonby who may well be in the reckoning if he has a second straight good season: if you are going to select people so early in their careers for international tours they will need careful management – Brian Close was selected for the 1950-1 Ashes tour when not much more than a boy and badly mishandled on that tour, setting his career back years.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

My attention was drawn earlier today to calls being made on the government to support Eurostar, the most climate friendly means of travelling between this country and continental Europe. You can sign and share by clicking here, and below is the infographic that accompanies the text on wearepossible:

Now for my usual sign off. I had to put in a prescription request, and used the longer, parkland route home, as it being half term the schools were closed.

Heritage Open Day and Post Ashes

An account of Heritage Open Day, details of some events involving my role as branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk, and a look back at The Ashes,

INTRODUCTION

This post looks back at the Ashes and Heritage Open Day, and forward to some other events. I have plenty of photos to share as usual (calendar will be finalized later this week). I start with…

HERITAGE OPEN DAY

I was due to steward at Lath Mansion from 2PM to 4PM, and was well aware that I would not be able to keep going for the whole six hours of Heritage Open Day, so I decided to have an early lunch at home and then head for the town, aiming to have an hour in town before my stewarding stint began. Thus I arrived at the Tuesday Market Place at about 12:40, picked up a brochure for the event and proceeded from there.

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This is the place where I stewarded.

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I took time to look at two of the oldest cars the classic car display first of all…

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I decided that the only places I would visit prior to heading to Lath Mansion were the Norman house which these days houses a firm of solicitors and the Ouse Amateur Sailing Club, at the latter of which I consumed a pint of Ghost Ship. I then headed by way of The Lower Purfleet, the river front and St Margaret’s Lane to Nelson Street, and familiarized myself with Lath Mansion before starting my stewarding stint. Stewarding done it was time to head home. I am looking forward to be being involved again next year.

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Lath Mansion starts here picture wise.

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Not quite Faberge (!), but an ornamental egg.

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A very old style bus.

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THE ASHES – THE MOST UNDESERVED 2-2 SCORELINE IN HISTORY

I got back from Heritage Open Day just in time to listen to the last knockings of the fifth Ashes test match at The Oval. Jack Leach finished with 4-49, while Broad had 4-62 as Eng;and completed victory by 135 runs. Leach has surely ended any argument about who is first choice spinner for England in red ball cricket – Matt Parkinson, Dominic Bess and Amar Virdi would all merit consideration should England opt for two front line spinners, while Liam Patterson-White of Nottinghamshire warrants consideration for the future (in a few years time he may well be ready to step in Jack Leach’s shoes, although at present there is of course no vacancy for a slow left armer). Sam Curran, whose left handedness gives the pace attack an extra element of variation was also a big plus, and Archer’s man of the match winning first innings bowling confirmed his stellar status. The batting remains problematic, with Denly seemingly able only to score runs in the second innings, Bairstow unable to buy a run against the red ball and Buttler not doing enough to warrant a place as a specialist batter. The only reason England’s lack of a decent opening pair was not even more cruelly exposed than it was in this series is that Australia fared even worse in that department, with Warner setting a new record low aggregate for an opener who has played 10 innings in a test series (surely that means a final “good riddance” from test cricket for him). At a minimum Sibley needs to be brought into the top three, enabling Root to go back to four, Pope to come in for Buttler and Foakes to get the gloves in place of Bairstow (his batting has always been much more of a selling point than his keeping, so consistent failure in that department should not be tolerated).

In truth England were thrashed at Edgbaston, outplayed for most of Headingley and thrashed at Old Trafford, while having just the better of Lord’s and managing to beat an Australia who basically did not turn up at The Oval. In terms of the next Ashes series, in 2021-2, whoever is England captain for that will need to achieve something last achieved by Ray Illingworth in 1970-1 (Brearley in 1978-9, Gatting in 1986-7 and Strauss in 2010-11 were all retaining, not regaining, the Ashes), and only achieved prior to that by Stoddart (1894-5), Warner (1903-4), Douglas (with some important advice from a sick Warner, 1911-2) and Jardine (1932-3). One can only hope that whatever he might say in public Ed Smith does not con himself into believing that England actually merited the 2-2 scoreline – they certainly did not. Propagandizing may be acceptable, buying into one’s own propaganda is invariably disastrous.

UPCOMING EVENTS

The “Yes I Can” event takes place at The Corn Exchange on Tuesday. Following the success of their Autism Friendly Youth Group, the library will be holding an Autism Friendly Adult’s Group, with the first session 5PM to 6:45PM on September 30th, and sessions being twice monthly, on a Monday near the end of the month and on a mid month Wednesday. NAS West Norfolk will be continuing to run a ‘drop in’ group at the Scout Hall on Portland Place every Wednesday.

Adult Social Group
An Infographic I created about the new adult social group at the Library

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My lanyard.

Yes I Can

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Not quite the last butterfly of the year (I have a red admiral on my camera from today), but this comma cannot be far short.

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