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Old 8th April 2016, 14:59   #41
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Originally Posted by JRC67 View Post
... I'm pretty sure England management would love to have a Warne or even a Swann in the team ...
I wonder whether either of those great spinners, at the start of their careers, would have been able to get into the current England side. As you point out, with Stokes already available to bowl without occupying a bowler's position, and with the assumption (an increasingly false but nonetheless prevailing assumption) that the conditions facing England will usually assist his type of bowling more than they would assist spin bowling, there really isn't any reason to want to swap Ali for a spin bowler much worse than him with the bat. I think the bowler in question would have to be either massively and clearly brilliant as a bowler -- which I don't think great spinners tend to be when they're still in the early stages of their test careers -- or really a very good batsman. For me, that's the most depressing thing about the current "conundrum" -- we're getting into a position whereby, unless we drop Stokes down the order into a bowling position, I can't imagine how we will ever have a world-class spinner again. The only way is if he happens to be an extremely fine batsman first. Otherwise, he might play on the odd tour, but he'll be dropped again for every home season. It's like the wicketkeeping situation: we're never going to have an excellent wicketkeeper playing tests for England except by unlikely accident, if one of the batsmen we pick to do the job manages to develop his keeping skills to that extent (while still focusing mostly on his batting in order to keep his place). So yes, it might seem as if England would love to have Warne or Swann in the team, but we're really only talking about Warne or Swann the mature bowlers, and at present England can't develop any spinner to become someone like that. It's for these kinds of reasons that people often try to make out (in my view erroneously) that Ali is the best available spinner. They do so because they know that if we just settle upon a policy of having a seamer in the top six and picking our spinner according to his all-round contribution, we'll never reasonably be able to expect to have a high-quality spin bowler in the team.
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Old 8th April 2016, 15:25   #42
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I wonder whether either of those great spinners, at the start of their careers, would have been able to get into the current England side. As you point out, with Stokes already available to bowl without occupying a bowler's position, and with the assumption (an increasingly false but nonetheless prevailing assumption) that the conditions facing England will usually assist his type of bowling more than they would assist spin bowling, there really isn't any reason to want to swap Ali for a spin bowler much worse than him with the bat. I think the bowler in question would have to be either massively and clearly brilliant as a bowler -- which I don't think great spinners tend to be when they're still in the early stages of their test careers -- or really a very good batsman. For me, that's the most depressing thing about the current "conundrum" -- we're getting into a position whereby, unless we drop Stokes down the order into a bowling position, I can't imagine how we will ever have a world-class spinner again. The only way is if he happens to be an extremely fine batsman first. Otherwise, he might play on the odd tour, but he'll be dropped again for every home season. It's like the wicketkeeping situation: we're never going to have an excellent wicketkeeper playing tests for England except by unlikely accident, if one of the batsmen we pick to do the job manages to develop his keeping skills to that extent (while still focusing mostly on his batting in order to keep his place). So yes, it might seem as if England would love to have Warne or Swann in the team, but we're really only talking about Warne or Swann the mature bowlers, and at present England can't develop any spinner to become someone like that. It's for these kinds of reasons that people often try to make out (in my view erroneously) that Ali is the best available spinner. They do so because they know that if we just settle upon a policy of having a seamer in the top six and picking our spinner according to his all-round contribution, we'll never reasonably be able to expect to have a high-quality spin bowler in the team.
And in many ways it's a case of putting the cart before the horse. It could be said that a spin bowler will only complete their development once they have played and prospered in international cricket. Look at Warne at the start of the career, and the terrible figures he churned out in his first game. It was probably this experiance that helped him complete his education and become the great bowler he eventually was. No doubt if Kerrigan was a useful batsman, he would have been given longer in the side, but because he only didn't have this capability he was jettisoned out after one game. I doubt we'll ever have a specialist keeper again, because glove work isn't a priority for selectors. If you want to play for England you don't have to be an excellent glove man, just a good batsman. The next generation of spin bowlers may now be thinking the same. Is being a good spin bowler going to get you a call up, it do you need to be a decent spinner and a decent batsman? I would say it's the latter, and as a result spinners will spend less time bowling and more time batting during their development. It is very much a batsman's game now.
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Old 8th April 2016, 15:29   #43
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If you want to play for England you don't have to be an excellent glove man, just a good batsman.
You don't have to be a barely competent glove man.
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Old 8th April 2016, 15:39   #44
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I don't think Ali will stay the same bowler. He's fairly new and learning all the time. Three years down the line he could be as good as Swann. Swann made his debut at the same age that Ali is now.

In his last 3 Tests Ali has been able to get his economy down to 3.35.
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Old 8th April 2016, 15:47   #45
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I don't think Ali will stay the same bowler. He's fairly new and learning all the time. Three years down the line he could be as good as Swann. Swann made his debut at the same age that Ali is now...
That's really a matter for the Ali thread, but one recent criticism is that he hasn't really developed in his time as a test bowler. I don't think he'll get much better. There's no real need for him to do so, either for the team's benefit or in order to keep his place. The most telling thing about your post is that you can envisage him retaining his place for another three years with or without dramatic improvements in his bowling.
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Old 8th April 2016, 15:57   #46
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That's really a matter for the Ali thread, but one recent criticism is that he hasn't really developed in his time as a test bowler. I don't think he'll get much better. There's no real need for him to do so, either for the team's benefit or in order to keep his place. The most telling thing about your post is that you can envisage him retaining his place for another three years with or without dramatic improvements in his bowling.
You would think there would be a gradual improvement rather than a dramatic one. He will be playing for England in three years time.
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Old 8th April 2016, 16:44   #47
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I wonder whether either of those great spinners, at the start of their careers, would have been able to get into the current England side. As you point out, with Stokes already available to bowl without occupying a bowler's position, and with the assumption (an increasingly false but nonetheless prevailing assumption) that the conditions facing England will usually assist his type of bowling more than they would assist spin bowling, there really isn't any reason to want to swap Ali for a spin bowler much worse than him with the bat. I think the bowler in question would have to be either massively and clearly brilliant as a bowler -- which I don't think great spinners tend to be when they're still in the early stages of their test careers -- or really a very good batsman. For me, that's the most depressing thing about the current "conundrum" -- we're getting into a position whereby, unless we drop Stokes down the order into a bowling position, I can't imagine how we will ever have a world-class spinner again. The only way is if he happens to be an extremely fine batsman first. Otherwise, he might play on the odd tour, but he'll be dropped again for every home season. It's like the wicketkeeping situation: we're never going to have an excellent wicketkeeper playing tests for England except by unlikely accident, if one of the batsmen we pick to do the job manages to develop his keeping skills to that extent (while still focusing mostly on his batting in order to keep his place). So yes, it might seem as if England would love to have Warne or Swann in the team, but we're really only talking about Warne or Swann the mature bowlers, and at present England can't develop any spinner to become someone like that. It's for these kinds of reasons that people often try to make out (in my view erroneously) that Ali is the best available spinner. They do so because they know that if we just settle upon a policy of having a seamer in the top six and picking our spinner according to his all-round contribution, we'll never reasonably be able to expect to have a high-quality spin bowler in the team.
You make some good points here an maybe you're right about the fact that a better spinner wouldn't be picked because of the fact that Stokes and Ali bat. However is there anyone out there now who would bowl better in a county game than Ali? Perhaps Tredwell and Batty, but not by a significant margin. Mason Crane may turn out to be our Shane Warne but after seeing him at the under 19 WC, there's a long time before that happens.
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Old 8th April 2016, 16:56   #48
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And in many ways it's a case of putting the cart before the horse. It could be said that a spin bowler will only complete their development once they have played and prospered in international cricket. Look at Warne at the start of the career, and the terrible figures he churned out in his first game. It was probably this experiance that helped him complete his education and become the great bowler he eventually was. No doubt if Kerrigan was a useful batsman, he would have been given longer in the side, but because he only didn't have this capability he was jettisoned out after one game. I doubt we'll ever have a specialist keeper again, because glove work isn't a priority for selectors. If you want to play for England you don't have to be an excellent glove man, just a good batsman. The next generation of spin bowlers may now be thinking the same. Is being a good spin bowler going to get you a call up, it do you need to be a decent spinner and a decent batsman? I would say it's the latter, and as a result spinners will spend less time bowling and more time batting during their development. It is very much a batsman's game now.
Swann was identified and in the England setup at 20, the fact he didn't play regular international cricket was due to the management having some issues with him. It probably was also reflected in his inconsistent championship form over those years. The delay in his introduction may have done him a favour as when he got his head together and also moved counties it meant he did have experience of a home ground which by English conditions is spin friendly and his second county which is more seam friendly.

Warne was given an extended chance partly because Australian spinners at the time couldn't take wickets but also he had turned in some pretty decent returns for Australia B both on tour and in tour matches at home. I don't think any of the young England spinners have set the world on fire for England B over the past couple of years, with the exception of Ali who turned in some half respectable figures (rather than good) in Sri Lanka.

Using Kerrigan as an example of players deserving extended chances does seem odd, for me the experience of playing him when clearly not ready for the step up in quality knocked the player back 4 or 5 years in his development. With the odd exception (normally players who spin the ball an inordinate amount, which makes them exceptional spinners) spin bowlers don't normally mature until their mid 20s. Partly because they have got to learn to bowl on a variety of surfaces. To be a test regular a bowler needs to be able to bowl teams out on a spinning wicket and go for about 2 and a half runs an over, bowling 30 plus overs a day, on a flat wicket. I don't believe there is a young spinner in English cricket currently capable of doing both so chucking someone in just to see them fail and drift off in to obscurity doesn't seem a fair or reasonable way for the England cricket team management to go. The issue partly needs to be addressed at county level and also a way needs to be found to get more promising young spinners game time in countries where spin is more significant. I think most young spinners are actually thinking how the hell can I become a county regular at the moment as they aren't making that step up, not how can I improve my batting to get in the England team. Just throwing a young player in to the team on the basis we need a spinner will see him just getting carted all over the stadium by decent test level batsmen and won't bring them on at all as players as these players aren't setting the county scene on fire or making the step up to bowling well at B international level when given the chance.
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Old 8th April 2016, 17:00   #49
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... but not by a significant margin ...
There's surely no such thing as a non-significant margin of superiority in test cricket. Close games are fairly common.
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Old 8th April 2016, 17:10   #50
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You make some good points here an maybe you're right about the fact that a better spinner wouldn't be picked because of the fact that Stokes and Ali bat. However is there anyone out there now who would bowl better in a county game than Ali? Perhaps Tredwell and Batty, but not by a significant margin. Mason Crane may turn out to be our Shane Warne but after seeing him at the under 19 WC, there's a long time before that happens.
I think there are a few spinners probably marginally better than Ali, there are definitely a few who are more economical although they don't really spin it much, which Ali does. For a spinner to come in a 5 man attack the Captain and management have to think that he's going to be more of a threat than Stokes, otherwise they are only going to bowl 20 overs a match or less as the 5th bowler. If you look at the strike rates of nearly all English spinners that means in most matches they are going to contribute 1 and a half wickets or less. Where that leaves us exposed is when we get to India we have to pick a spinner or two as a hunch. Is throwing down three or four overs before lunch and tea breaks really going to develop them as test players, probably not. Will that leave us in a worse position doing that than playing a specialist spinner all summer who has hardly bowled any over - probably not.
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Old 8th April 2016, 19:33   #51
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I understand where Sans is coming from, but I think the case is overstated. Ali is not performing consistently enough with bat or ball to merit a secure position in the side. That he has not been displaced says more about the ability of the alternatives. The best English qualified spin bowler in county cricket had a shot at it in Pakistan, but came up short. The truth is, the selectors have no faith in any current English spinners either to make an immediate impact or be a mid to long term prospect. It's one thing to say that they should take a chance to develop a bowler with no international success, but as JRC says, it's asking a lot more more of them to take a punt on someone with next to no domestic or Lions pedigree. Even a baby faced Warne had knocked over plenty in shield before his call-up.
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Old 8th April 2016, 19:47   #52
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Even a baby faced Warne had knocked over plenty in shield before his call-up.
Well, he knocked over 8 wickets...for 363 runs...strike rate of 111.
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Old 8th April 2016, 20:27   #53
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The key is for a spinner to get 50+ wickets this summer and a spot on the tour to Bangladesh and India. If they can prove they are a better bowler than Ali out there then I don't see why the management will overlook them. I don't think it's as simple as if they can't bat they'll never play.
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Old 8th April 2016, 21:05   #54
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The key is for a spinner to get 50+ wickets this summer and a spot on the tour to Bangladesh and India. If they can prove they are a better bowler than Ali out there then I don't see why the management will overlook them. I don't think it's as simple as if they can't bat they'll never play.
Can only see that being Crane to be honest.
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Old 8th April 2016, 21:12   #55
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Can only see that being Crane to be honest.
Noises are that Adam Riley has got his bowling together again. He bagged over 50 wickets in 2014 so might be an outside contender if it weren't for the fact that his batting, whilst gradually improving, remains at the lowest level of the professional scale.
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Old 8th April 2016, 21:33   #56
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Can only see that being Crane to be honest.
It's tough being a leggie though, I'd be pleasantly surprised if he makes a big impression this summer. Briggs at Sussex looks most likely IMO, and that's not me being biased, just he's at the right age and will be first choice in all cricket.
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Old 8th April 2016, 22:10   #57
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Noises are that Adam Riley has got his bowling together again. He bagged over 50 wickets in 2014 so might be an outside contender if it weren't for the fact that his batting, whilst gradually improving, remains at the lowest level of the professional scale.
Let's hope so, he looked good in 2014 although o thought his action was a little loose. Can't remember if he toured with the Lions or went to a bowling school that winter, where he might have had his action tweaked.
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Old 8th April 2016, 22:14   #58
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Well, he knocked over 8 wickets...for 363 runs...strike rate of 111.
Bugger, I trusted a dodgy article celebrating an anniversary of his debut rather than check the stats.
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Old 8th April 2016, 22:14   #59
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Let's hope so, he looked good in 2014 although o thought his action was a little loose. Can't remember if he toured with the Lions or went to a bowling school that winter, where he might have had his action tweaked.
He went off with the Lions. Came back and had lost it.
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Old 8th April 2016, 23:10   #60
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Well, he knocked over 8 wickets...for 363 runs...strike rate of 111.
Warne got picked on the basis of his Australia B performances and had hardly played any shield cricket. He'd spent more time playing cricket in the Lancashire League than for Victoria - although he also played high grade club cricket in Melbourne. His early career pretty much went Aussie rules football, Australia Cricket Academy and Australian Club Cricket, Accrington, Aussie B, Aussie A. He took a bag of wickets in England at Accrington on pretty seamer friendly conditions. You can read that one of two ways, if you've got control and can turn the ball (makes you a pretty rare spinner) you will come through and make the grade if you are good enough, or you need to take a risk on more young spinners and they'll come good. Warne was fast tracked through the Aussie system partly because they felt that he might have a rare talent and the fact they still haven't replaced him shows its not an easy task to find a real high quality spinner, they'd been trying to replace Richie Benaud for about 30 years when Warne came along. His early career was pretty well planned through and he wasn't just chucked in to the first 11 without following a bit of a plan, although I think it probably ended up happening 12 months more quickly than Australia planned.

Maybe the lesson for English spinners is get them playing in the more competitive club leagues, rather than festering on the outfield not bowling many overs for the first or second 11. I think too many of our players are coming through over coached and under bowled with very little competitive game time experience.
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