Parkin­son spurred on by fam­ily tragedy to launch Eng­land ca­reer

Spin­ner aims for T20 World Cup after mak­ing his de­but, he re­veals to Scyld Berry in Napier

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Athletics -

No coun­try has held both white-ball global ti­tles – the 20-over and 50-over World Cups – si­mul­ta­ne­ously and if Eng­land are go­ing to be­come the first in one year’s time, it is ax­iomatic that they will need a wicket-tak­ing wrist-spin­ner, in ad­di­tion to a con­tain­ing off-spin­ner such as Moeen Ali.

The big ques­tion is whether Adil Rashid and his right shoul­der will be fit for in­ter­na­tional pur­pose by the World Twenty20 fi­nals in Australia. He is only 31, and Eng­land’s se­nior spin­ner on this T20 tour of New Zealand, but the fizz off the pitch which made him ar­guably the most im­por­tant fig­ure in Eng­land’s four-year cam­paign to win the 50-over World Cup – well, it is not there.

Rashid is still pretty tidy, know­ing how to get round the traps 10 years after his Eng­land de­but, but that fizz has gone miss­ing. He needed a cou­ple of in­jec­tions to get through the World Cup, when he did a job, then rested his shoul­der un­til this tour. But the ball is sit­ting up rather than zip­ping through, and when the square bound­aries are short on both sides of the wicket – as at the West­pac Sta­dium in Welling­ton when his four overs cost 40 runs, and again at Mclean Park, the fourth venue to­mor­row – this can be a recipe for ex­pen­sive­ness, if not dis­as­ter.

Rashid is ap­proach­ing 250 wick­ets for Eng­land in the three for­mats com­bined, and has passed 1,000 wick­ets in first-class cricket and the two white-ball for­mats – and herein may lie the source of the prob­lem.

English leg-spin­ners be­ing gold dust, Rashid bowled so much when young that his ro­ta­tor cuff now protests. The goo­gly, which places an added strain, has be­come a rar­ity; and he fields at short third man or short fine leg to min­imise throw­ing.

Eng­land’s suc­ces­sion plan­ning has al­ready started with the se­lec­tion of Matt Parkin­son, the 23-year-old from Bolton, for the largely ex­per­i­men­tal squad on this tour. Parkin­son has the great virtue of get­ting plenty of rev­o­lu­tions on his stock de­liv­ery and bowled two tidy overs for 14 runs and a wicket on his de­but in the third T20 of this se­ries. In his T20 ca­reer, hith­erto for Lan­cashire, he has taken a wicket ev­ery 13 balls; Rashid’s strike-rate, al­beit against bet­ter bats­men on the whole, is one ev­ery 18 balls.

Parkin­son pro­pels the high­lyrevved ball up and above the bats­man’s eye line be­fore dip­ping and bounc­ing. The trou­ble is that other great virtues are not ev­i­dent – no field­ing, and no bat­ting, to speak of. Parkin­son mis­fielded his first ball in in­ter­na­tional cricket when it was pushed back at him but that can be for­given, for the joy and re­lief he must have felt after a tax­ing sea­son.

In the third T20, be­fore Eoin Mor­gan de­cided to pro­tect him after only two overs, Parkin­son bowled Tim Seifert – New Zealand’s wick­et­keeper, who was try­ing to re­verse-sweep – through his legs.

“I had a feel­ing he was go­ing to re­verse me that ball, so I bowled him a slider and luck­ily he missed it,” said Parkin­son, whose twin brother, Cal­lum, is also a spin­ner, but a left-handed one for Le­ices­ter­shire.

“I’m learn­ing a lot from him [Rashid]. Ob­vi­ously, it is fan­tas­tic to train and play along­side him, and we’ve got Jee­tan Pa­tel [the War­wick­shire and former New Zealand off-spin­ner, and

Eng­land’s spin-bowl­ing coach] here as well who is fan­tas­tic. But you don’t just learn off Adil and Jeets, it is the bat­ters as well and the other coaches.”

Parkin­son’s mother died this sum­mer, aged 50, from cancer. “Ob­vi­ously, the sum­mer has been tragic for me and my fam­ily, and I like to think that I’ve used the tragic thing that hap­pened in July to spur me on, and if I hadn’t used it in a pos­i­tive way then I don’t think I’d be here play­ing for Eng­land,” he said.

“My dad played a bit of club cricket and a cou­ple of games for Lan­cashire Un­der-19s. He’s a de­cent club crick­eter who bowls googlies – garbage, re­ally! I did learn from him. Your par­ents and your friends get you so far and then it is up to the county to take you on from there.”

Parkin­son has yet to spe­cialise in a for­mat: he is also Eng­land’s sec­ond spin­ner for the two-test leg of this tour, as back-up to Jack

Leach. “The cur­rent aim is to stay in the T20 side and look to­wards that World Cup, but I’ve played just one game of in­ter­na­tional cricket so I’m not go­ing to look too far ahead,” he said.

In the fourth T20 ev­ery spin­ner will have his work cut out be­cause of the short square bound­aries at Mclean Park in Napier. Any­thing pitched short will at­tract a cross-bat­ted shot and is li­able to go the full dis­tance.

Drop-in pitches are not so much the prob­lem when New Zealand play at their rugby grounds, be­cause their cu­ra­tors long ago sought to find cre­ative so­lu­tions for their unique prob­lem, but bound­aries of quirky di­men­sions are.

And just after bowlers have got used to bowl­ing fuller at the sec­ond and fourth venues of this se­ries, the last match is sched­uled for Eden Park in Auck­land, where it is the straight – not square – bound­aries which are short to the point of mi­nus­cule.

Warm­ing up: Matt Parkin­son bowls dur­ing the Twenty20 tour match against a New Zealand XI in Lin­coln last month

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