Who should be England’s first choice spinner?
England are just coming off the back off a 2-0 series win in Sri Lanka. Dom Bess and Jack Leach both picked up a bagful of wickets. So why are there concerns heading into the Indian tour? For a start, many experts still believe that neither has staked a strong enough claim to be the best English spinner as of yet.
Dom Bess picked up 5 wickets in the first innings at Galle but most of them were gifted to him. Jack Leach bowled better but at no point was he a major threat. The Indian batsmen are likely to be loss hospitable. The likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli could dismantle England’s spin attack if the visitors bowl poorly.
So, with all that in mind, who is the best English spinner in test match cricket?
In this article, we have shortlisted five who should be looked at, including both Leach and Bess.
Jack Leach is perhaps most well known for his infamous 1* vs Australia at Headingley in 2019. However, he has a pretty good record for an English spinner. In just 12 tests, he has taken 44 wickets at a bowling average of 31. His economy rate of 2.94 is solid and he provides a good option to help rotate the fast bowlers when playing in England.
Dominic Bess has picked up 31 wickets in 12 test matches at a bowling average of 33. He has sometimes been gifted wickets as his five-wicket hauls in South Africa and Sri Lanka would suggest.
Nevertheless, he offers a good batting option as well and his right-arm off-spin. However, he would like to improve his figures in England. At home, he averages over 50 with the ball.
Arguably the most potent threat out of any England bowler when fully fit and confident. Moeen Ali has the most number of wickets on this list by a long way in test match cricket. Despite being an all-rounder, Ali has also doubled up as England’s main spin bowler on multiple occasions.
In 60 tests, he has taken 181 wickets at a bowling average of 37.
The outside bet from all the spinners on this list, Amar Virdi has recently been included in England’s test squad reserves multiple times. The 22-year old is immensely talented and is one of the rare British Asians to play for England. In 28 First Class games for Surrey, Virdi has taken 91 wickets at a bowling average of 28.
Only Adil Rashid knows whether or not he wants to play test cricket again. He was brought back in 2018 after another shellacking Down Under by Australia. England decided that a spin bowler was much needed in the side. It seemed to have paid off, with Rashid bowling well at home and in Sri Lanka to help England win both series.
But, another heavy defeat in the West Indies meant that Adil Rashid took some of the blame and he hasn’t featured since. His leg-spin bowling offers a different option that England currently do not possess. He could be considered for the home and away tests considering that he did pick up wickets against India last time.
Verdict – Who is the best English spinner?
Statistically speaking, Jack Leach is the best English spinner currently in test match cricket. He is the only one out of the four who have played for England, that has a bowling average of below 30.
Leach offers excellent control – an area in which other spinners such as Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid lack, especially when playing in the subcontinent. As a result, Jack Leach should be England’s first choice spin bowler in India.
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