Cricket
Brendon McCullum bats for more County opportunities for Shoaib Bashir, Tom Hartley after IND vs ENG heroics

Brendon McCullum bats for more County opportunities for Shoaib Bashir, Tom Hartley after IND vs ENG heroics

Despite having modest records and little experience, Bashir, 20, and Hartley, 24, were selected from the county game and have been one of England's bright spots in a series loss in India.

In order for England to build on a breakthrough tour of India, head coach Brendon McCullum has pleaded with county cricket to give rookie spinners Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley game time.

Despite having modest records and little experience, Bashir, 20, and Hartley, 24, were selected from the county game and have been one of England’s bright spots in a series loss in India. Both have claimed their first-ever five-wicket hauls in a Test match. Bashir’s eight wickets for 198 in Ranchi increased his England Test wicket tally (12 in two games) to surpass his first-class wicket tally (10 in six games).

English spinner Shoaib Bashir has been added to the squad of England for the five-match IND vs ENG Test, which will start on 25 January.

But neither is probably going to be their county’s first-choice spinner this summer. Jack Leach, a teammate of Bashir’s at Somerset, is undergoing surgery this week for a knee injury but anticipates returning to action in April. Nathan Lyon, an Australian, has been signed by Hartley’s county Lancashire for the summer of 2024. Prior to Lyon’s arrival, Lancashire would sometimes prefer Jack Morley, a young left-arm spinner, to Hartley. As England Lions’ Callum Parkinson moves to Durham, Leicestershire’s first-choice spinner is at least Rehan Ahmed, the third young spinner on the tour, who is currently at home for personal reasons.

You’d be slightly mad if you didn’t give them more opportunities: McCullum

Although England coach McCullum said he understands why Lancashire went for Nathan Lyon, he asked for the county teams to provide more chances to the young English spinners.

“It will be a slight frustration of ours if they weren’t given opportunities at county level,” McCullum said. “There’s a very real possibility that might be the case, but without wanting to dictate to counties because they have their own agendas as well. When you see performances like we have out of those two bowlers throughout the series, I think you’d be slightly mad if you didn’t give them more opportunities in county cricket,” McCullum said.

“It would be nice to think they’d get plenty of opportunities so that they can improve at a quicker rate. Whether those opportunities are with counties or with England, I think we’ve just got to keep trying to get cricket into them. Whatever opportunity we can, we’ll try and give it to them. Because there’s two guys there more than good enough for international cricket. They’re also tough characters.

“What you can’t tell from the outside of a man’s body is the size of their heart – and we’ve seen both of them have big hearts and they’re up for international cricket. It doesn’t get any harder than it is right now. They’ve both stood up and performed, so we’ve just to keep giving both of them chances,” he added.

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