Former England spinner Norman Gifford believes there is a lack of quality slow bowlers in county cricket who could step in for Test duo Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.
Swann and Panesar shared 19 wickets during the victory over India in last week’s second Test in Mumbai and are expected to again be in tandem for the next encounter in Kolkata starting tomorrow.
But Gifford, who played in 15 Tests and took 2,068 first-class wickets, is looking to the future and sees a dearth of top-class spinners in the domestic game – though Hampshire’s Danny Briggs is an exception to the rule..
Gifford said: “Our performance (in the current series) has been brilliant but what slightly worries me is do we have the depth behind Swan and Panesar?
“I don’t think we have at the moment.
“You’ve got young Danny Briggs, who has done well, you’ve got Azeem Rafiq at Yorkshire, George Dockrell at Somerset, and the young Simon Kerrigan at Lancashire.
“But, when you look at the 18 counties, there are not many spinners playing in first-class cricket.”
Gifford, who also captained England in two one-day internationals, hopes youngsters will take inspiration from Swann and Panesar.
He said: “It's not just Test cricket.
“Spinners play a big part in one-day and Twenty20 international cricket as well.
“They have been as effective as anyone. But I'm hoping the kids will look at Swann and Panesar and think ‘there is an opportunity now if I work hard’ and we will start to produce a few more spinners in county cricket.”
Gifford believes the lack of spin-assisted wickets in county cricket is a factor.
He said: “When I first start, there were uncovered wickets and you’d go into a game with at least two spinners, an off-spinner and a left-arm spinner.
“You got wickets that turned as well, at places like Cheltenham and Swansea for example, so you had to have that balance in your attack – and we’ve lost that a little bit.”