Callum Parkinson and Tom Hartley are being considered for England’s upcoming tour of India as spinners.
England may potentially choose up to three left-arm spinners for their upcoming five-Test trip to India in the coming year. The untested Callum Parkinson and Tom Hartley are being evaluated for potential call-ups, along with the comeback of Jack Leach.
Leach was unable to participate in the Ashes season due to a stress fracture in his lower back. However, he has since shown his readiness by successfully completing a training camp in the United Arab Emirates with the England team. As a result, it is likely that the 32-year-old will be selected this week to join the squad for the upcoming series against India.
There is a possibility that Rehan Ahmed, a 19-year-old leg-spinner who had a successful debut in Pakistan last winter with seven wickets, will return. Two more players from the UAE camp are also being considered, as there is a belief that left-arm spin may be effective against India’s predominantly right-handed lineup. Parkinson, whose twin brother Matt has already played for England, is a surprising addition to the mix. He only took 11 wickets in four first-class games for Leicestershire this season, but this was partly due to falling out of favor and not being included in the first-team plans after agreeing to switch to Durham in the winter.
In total, Parkinson has taken 145 wickets in the first-class matches, with an average just below 40. It is primarily his unique angle and trajectory that have sparked discussions about him. As England prepares for their upcoming eight-week trip starting on January 25th in Hyderabad, they are anticipating spin-friendly pitches. Team director Rob Key, who is also handling the selection process, has previously emphasized the importance of spinners who can make the ball hit the surface, much like India’s Ravindra Jadeja.
Hartley from Lancashire, who recently played his first one-day international match against Ireland, is also being considered. Despite having only 40 first-class wickets, the 24-year-old’s height of 6 feet 4 inches could create challenges similar to those posed by Axar Patel during England’s loss to India in 2021. Both of these new players would need to prioritize accuracy and consistency.
Perhaps this level of skill could be better ensured by someone with more experience, like Liam Dawson. This is especially true after taking 49 wickets at an average of 20 in Division One for Hampshire this year. However, the 33-year-old has already committed to playing T20 cricket for a franchise overseas during the winter and has hinted that a Test selection would pose a challenging decision for him.
Since Moeen Ali has decided to retire from Test cricket after the Ashes, selecting either Parkinson or Hartley could result in the team having no primary right-arm off-spinner. All-rounder Will Jacks is a possible alternative, but he has already committed to playing for South Africa’s SA20 team. Unless Jacks is chosen and alters his winter schedule, it is likely that Joe Root will continue to take on more responsibility as a bowler.
In other places, the team from England will most likely continue with their current selections under Key and the head coach, Brendon McCullum. However, there may be some challenges in determining the top batting lineup, as Ben Foakes is expected to rejoin the squad after being left out of the Ashes squad. Due to his skill in fielding on turning pitches, he may also be included in the starting eleven.
Therefore, considering that Ollie Pope has recovered from his shoulder injury and is available for selection again, one of the usual players may have to be replaced by Foakes. The composition of the team is also not clear-cut, as Ben Stokes is still recovering from knee surgery and may not necessarily be included as an all-rounder at the beginning of the series.
The England team does not have a warm-up match at the beginning of their tour. Instead, they will be training in the UAE starting on January 12th before traveling to India just three days before facing what is considered one of the most difficult challenges in international cricket.