One of English cricket’s many failures in the 1990s was to find an English Shane Warne. It was understandable, given Warne’s total domination throughout two thirds of the decade – but that English cricket, then nearing crisis, could drum up a legspinner was shortsighted and completely ignorant. Worse still, our Warne-less attack simply provided the authorities (and captains?) an excuse for the run of defeats. We haven’t got a Warne, we haven’t got a hope. Luckily, Duncan Fletcher arrived to shake things up a bit and we gradually grew less sycophantic and needy.
As recently as this summer, Mike Atherton – himself a former legspinner – wrote of England’s blasÃ© attitude to spin bowling, in particular legspin. Only when he first toured Australia did he realise how seriously it was considered, and how utterly ignorant English schools cricket was towards the art. Even I experienced this at school. This is changing, albeit slowly, and England now have their very own spin coach – David Parsons. The emergence of people like Adil Rashid from Yorkshire is only the start, but it’s a start the 1990s administrators could only have dreamed of.
Hot on the footsteps of Rashid comes England’s answer to Rubber Man himself, Muttiah Muralitharan. Come on down Sachin Vaja, a mystically named offspinner with an equally deceptive doosra. Matthew Pryor, son (or grandson?) of the spin machine Merlyn’s inventor, has the full story at tomorrow’s Times.