McCullum pleads for more games for Bashir, Hartley with County Clubs

28 February,2024 09:20 AM IST |  New Delhi  |  IANS

Though McCullum said he understood why Lancashire opted for Lyon, he still urged the clubs to give more opportunities to young England spinners

Brendon McCullum. Pic/AFP

England head coach Brendon McCullum has suggested to the top administrators of English County Clubs to give opportunities to Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley after the young spinners performed admirably during the Test series in India despite their inexperience.

For England to build on a breakthrough tour of India, McCullum had given opportunities to Bashir, 20, and Hartley, 24, despite both of them having modest records and little experience.

The duo have been England's bright spots in a series, that they have lost 1-3 with the fifth and final Test yet to be played. 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).

Considering their performance so far, McCullum pleaded with the administrators of County Cricket clubs to give the rookie spinners more opportunities because neither Bashir nor Hartley are first-choice spinners for their teams. Bashir's injured teammate Jack Leach, who is set to undergo surgery this week to treat a knee injury, is the first-choice spinner at Somerset while Hartley's club Lancashire has recently signed Australian spinner Nathan Lyon.

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Though McCullum said he understood why Lancashire opted for Lyon, he still urged the clubs to give more opportunities to young England spinners. "It will be a slight frustration of ours if they weren't given opportunities at county level," McCullum was quoted as saying by the English media.

"There's a very real possibility that might be the case, but without wanting to dictate to counties because they have their 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.

The England head coach said playing more matches will help the spinners improve their skills.

"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 are 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," McCullum added.

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