Spin options for England ahead of tour


England will doubtless feel the need for an extra spin option at
their disposal when they set out next month to play Pakistan in the
unfamiliar climes of the United Arab Emirates.

It seems opportunity will therefore knock for at least one of three hopefuls when the selectors announce their squad for the three-Test series tomorrow morning.

Samit Patel and Scott Borthwick are uncapped, while Monty Panesar has not played for England since his tail-end defiance with the bat helped to salvage a last-ditch draw in Cardiff at the start of the 2009 Ashes series victory.

Panesar lost his central contract at the end of that summer too. But like 21-year-old leg-spinner Borthwick and his fellow left-arm orthodox Patel - whose strongest suit is his middle-order batting - Panesar turns the ball in the opposite direction to England's first-choice spinner Graeme Swann.

All three are sure to come into prominent consideration for that reason, despite the uncertainties surrounding each.

Borthwick, also a handy batsman, brings risks as well as promise purely on the basis that he is an inexperienced leg-spinner - a tag which screams vulnerability.

Patel was welcomed back into the England fold only last year after a long absence during which selectors and coaching staff made it clear they were dissatisfied with the Nottinghamshire all-rounder's general fitness levels.

He was a qualified, and rare, success in England's 5-0 one-day international defeat in India in October - when the management nonetheless appeared equivocal about Patel's physical preparations, which may still be a work in progress.

Panesar has gradually begun to hint at some of the old form which brought him 39 Test caps, since his move from Northamptonshire to Sussex two years ago.

The perceived need for an extra specialist spinner on the arid pitches expected in Dubai and Abu Dhabi means England may have to compromise, in a likely 16-man squad, in other areas.

The inclusion of Patel, good enough to be picked as an extra batsman who could help Swann with the ball, may help to solve that problem.

But otherwise, a regular seamer or back-up wicketkeeper could miss out on England's bid to consolidate new-found International Cricket Council number one status against tricky opponents in largely unknown conditions.

Word has it in some quarters that both Panesar and deputy wicketkeeper Steve Davies are preferred options, and the selection of the latter - who is a frontline batsman too - would create room in England's deliberations for an extra bowler.

Among the seamers, it is inconceivable that either James Anderson or fit-again Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan will not be picked to lead the attack.

But the scrap between Steven Finn, so singularly impressive in that otherwise miserable ODI tour of India, and Chris Tremlett as a back-up pace option is a much closer call.

Tremlett was winning the race during England's climb to the top of the world rankings last summer, until succumbing to a back injury before the second Test at Trent Bridge - where Bresnan replaced him to great effect, with bat as well as ball.

Tremlett has excelled for England when extra bounce has been available - in Perth during last winter's Ashes, and on his former home pitch at the Rose Bowl against Sri Lanka in June.

It is hard to envisage steepling bounce in the Middle East, whatever height the ball is delivered from, and Finn's out-and-out increased pace - albeit on surfaces which are expected to be very slow - therefore sounds like a more potent weapon.

It is a measure of England's Test match standing that there will surely be precious few surprises in the list of names announced to accompany captain Andrew Strauss tomorrow, and the first-choice batting line-up is set in stone.

Eoin Morgan's return to fitness, after shoulder surgery, means he will be back at the likely expense of Ravi Bopara.

Possible squad from (v Pakistan for three Tests in January and February in the United Arab Emirates): AJ Strauss (captain), AN Cook, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, IR Bell, EJG Morgan, MJ Prior (wkt), SCJ Broad, TT Bresnan, GP Swann, JM Anderson, ST Finn, SR Patel, MS Panesar, SM Davies (wkt), CT Tremlett.


Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue