Cricket
County vs Country: Tom Hartley faces uncertain future at home despite India success

County vs Country: Tom Hartley faces uncertain future at home despite India success

Despite success in IND vs ENG Test series, Tom Hartley may spend time on bench at Lancashire with Nathan Lyon being the premier spinner.

Should County teams in England promote a domestic talent or go with a spinner who has bagged 500 Test wickets? England cricket is torn in the county vs country debate. Tom Hartley, the highest wicket-taker in IND vs ENG Test series, is facing an uncertain future back home when he returns to play for Lancashire in the English summer. He will have competition from none other than Australian spin great Nathan Lyon.

On Tuesday, England coach Brendon McCullum expressed his concerns that young players like Hartley or Shoaib Bashir won’t get that many opportunities in County Cricket.

County vs Country

Should Lancashire play Tom Hartley over Nathan Lyon for the sake of the country’s interest? English media is abuzz. How can Lancashire ignore Hartley after bagging 20 Test wickets already in the IND vs ENG Test series? Then the question is can you actually force a spinner with 500 Test wickets to the bench after bringing him in with a lot of money?

Fred Shergold wrote in The Daily Mail that Lancashire should do what’s best for them. But they must look at the bigger picture too.

“It’s always been the debate, club v country. Lancashire, to an extent, have to do what’s best for them but you do have to look at the bigger picture. Old Trafford can take turns, so why not play two spinners? Lyon is a world-class bowler and Hartley could learn a lot from him. It’s a great opportunity for Hartley but he does need to play,” he said.

Similarly, Shoaib Bashir will have to compete with England teammate Jack Leach at Somerset.

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Should Hartley & Bashir play more county cricket?

Before the IND vs ENG Test series, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir were rather unknown players. It was England cricket team’s scouting that fast-tracked the two youngsters to the Test team.

While they may not play in home Tests but they have risen above the rest with impactful spells. If Hartley has 20 Test wickets after just 4 Tests, Bashir has bagged 12 wickets in two matches including a fifer.

Since making his County debut in June 2023, Shoaib Bashir has played only 8 First Class matches. He has picked up 14 wickets. Tom Hartley made his debut in August 2020. But he could only play 24 First Class games. With not many turning tracks on offer in England, chances of playing two spinners together are rare. Hence, McCullum wants counties to find a way for them to improve at a quicker rate.

“It will be a slight frustration of ours if they weren’t given opportunities at county level. 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. It would be nice to think they’d get plenty of opportunities so that they can improve at a quicker rate,” Brendon McCullum told the media on Tuesday.

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