Stephen Parry has one of those stories which make the business of modern professional sport worth the candle. On Sunday, making his improbable debut for England in the second one-day international against West Indies, he took 3 for 32 and was man of the match. England secured a vital, much-needed win.
It was sterling stuff. Parry took full advantage of a pitch which suited his brand of left-arm spin, slow, a little untrustworthy. He gave the opposition little room for manoeuvre. The ball after he was struck for six by the match’s top scorer, Lendl Simmons, he had him caught trying to repeat it.
The delight was obvious. Parry was a surprising selection in this party and for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, where he can now expect to play a substantial role. He is more or less a one-day specialist bowler with Lancashire as five Championship matches in five years would testify. Nothing wrong with that but it might seem to limit the options for progress.
Last July, enjoying a successful summer with Lancashire and a few weeks after recording his best figures in professional cricket of 5 for 17, he was batting in the nets. Peter Moores, the county’s coach, misjudged a throw down and the ball crashed into Parry’s left arm.
He was out of action for two months, fit to return only for Lancashire’s final Championship match with a plate now inserted. In normal circumstances he perhaps would not have played but Lancashire had already won the Second Division to ensure promotion – “I think Mooresy just wanted me to get back out there.”
He went to Australia for the winter with his young family, bowling at England in the nets when they were in Perth. In January, seemingly from nowhere, he was picked in the initial 30-man squad for the World Twenty20.
A month later he was in the final 15 in place of Hampshire’s Danny Briggs. On Saturday, he was told he had better prepare to play in an ODI on Sunday.
“Cricket moves swiftly,” he said. “I was over the moon to get into the 30 and had a bit of hope I’d be picked as anybody would but deep down I wasn’t sure.
“My heart was saying ‘come on let’s get picked’ but my head was telling me it wasn’t realistic. So it was nice to get the call and then all of a sudden things started happening like yesterday. What with Man City winning the cup I was probably the happiest man around!”
Parry, 28, is a lifelong Manchester City supporter. The family went everywhere even when City were slumming it in the lower divisions. The League Cup final victory against Sunderland on Sunday completed his day. “My Dad said he was watching me, but I’m 100 per cent sure he’d have been flicking.”
He is the second Lancashire left-arm spinner to make his debut for England in six months. Simon Kerrigan played in the fifth Test against Australia last August and was taken to the cleaners.
They divide duties at the county, Kerrigan appears in the Championship, Parry in the limited-overs stuff. “We have got different styles,” said Parry. “He’s more up and over while I bowl more into the wicket.”
The two are good mates. “We have a bit of banter about No 1 and No 2, but he’s a cracking lad, a really good cricketer, I really hopes he gets another opportunity,” said Parry. It was the sort of performance to raise the spirits on Sunday. Parry has a chance of something in Bangladesh.