Cricket news 2020: Shane Warne calls on Sheffield Shield sides to utilise spin bowlers
Cricket great Shane Warne believes the standard of spin bowling in Australia is “going downhill fast” due to the increase of drop-in wickets in the Sheffield Shield.
Although there is a seemingly endless number of pacemen worthy of Test selection, Australia’s spin bowling choices are worryingly limited.
None of the Sheffield Shield’s 20 highest wicket-takers during the 2019/20 season were spin bowlers. The competition’s only consistent tweaker was Steve O’Keefe, who snared 16 dismissals in five matches. However, the Blues veteran was not offered a contract by New South Wales for next season.
The lack of experienced spin bowlers will become more apparent next year when Australia tours India in April. Australia has not won a Test series in the subcontinent for almost a decade, and will need a vigorous spin bowling department to topple Virat Kohli’s men at home.
Speaking on behalf of Advanced Hair Studio, Warne called for Sheffield Shield teams to habitually pick a specialist spinner for every first class match next summer so they can learn to bowl in varying conditions, otherwise the standard will continue to drop.
“A spinner should play every single game, no matter what the conditions are like, so that particular spinners can learn how to bowl on day one or day four,” Warne told news.com.au.
“We’ve got to be careful it’s not too much the same. The states want to win so badly, that sometimes they leave out a spinner, rather than thinking long-term.
“At the moment, they only pick them when the conditions suit.
“We have some good spinners in Australia, but they’re not getting the opportunities.
“Cricket Australia should maybe put some pressure on the states and say, ‘You have to pick one specialist spinner in your team every time.’”
Queenslander Mitchell Swepson, who is arguably Australia’s current second-choice spin bowler for Test selection, was not chosen in multiple Sheffield Shield matches last summer because of pace-friendly conditions.
Former international batsman Usman Khawaja captained the Queensland Bulls throughout the 2019/20 season, and although Swepson is one of the team’s strike bowlers, he was often denied the ball due to the pitch condition.
“It’s really hard, even for me as a captain, to get (Swepson) into the game when the ball is hooping around corners and you’re playing on really green decks,” news.com.au/sport/cricket/usman-khawaja-calls-for-spinfriendly-conditions-in-sheffield-shield-cricket/news–story/2e6ee1293dc71b46f9e51b1d84d3200e” target=”_blank” type=”[object Object]” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Khawaja told Fox Sports News earlier this month.
“He’s always been a part of our team and he’s always there no matter what the wicket is because he’s such a good bowler. But it’s really hard to get him in the game sometimes because the wickets weren’t really favouring spin.
“I feel for spinners in Australia and we need to be careful here because we have an absolute genius in Nathan Lyon … but who’s coming after him?
“Spinners just went out of the game.
“Unless we have spinners playing day in and day out, getting involved in those match scenarios across the country, we’re going to suffer … just like we suffered when Warnie left.”
Swepson was picked in the squad for Australia’s most recent Test match, but is yet to earn a Baggy Green cap.
Warne echoed Khawaja’s remarks, having recognised several Sheffield Shield teams exclude spin bowlers when faced with green wickets.
“Nathan Lyon is one of the best spinners in the world, and we’re so lucky to have a great spinner in Lyon. If something happened to him, we’ve got a spinner with very little first class experience that could be up against some of the best players in the world of spin.
“How are they going to learn if you don’t allow them to play state cricket?
“There has to be a responsibility on the states to pick one specialist spinner in every game we play so they learn. And if they don’t, well maybe Cricket Australia has to step in.
“Otherwise spin bowling will go downhill, and it is going downhill fast.”
Warne named Swepson, Cameron Boyce, Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar as the contenders for Lyon’s subsidiary at Test level, but hopes the quartet can play as much first class cricket as possible before next year’s Test tour of India.
“There’s three very good leg spinners, and then you’ve got the safer option of Agar,” Warne said.
“I don’t think there’s any standout number two … Mitchell Swepson is probably just ahead of the rest of them.
“Adam Zampa, I’ve been so impressed with the way he’s delivered in white-ball cricket and how much he’s developed.
“They have to play every Shield game for the year, no matter what.”
O’Keefe accompanied Lyon during Australia’s most recent Test tour of India in 2017, and impressed with a match-winning 12/70 in Pune.
After his retirement, the Blues veteran warned Australian would struggle to win matches in the subcontinent if the spin-friendly conditions are not replicated in the Sheffield Shield.
“We have so much talent in this country, spin-bowling depth. I look across at the top two spinners in each state that I really think there’s so much quality,” O’Keefe said.
“The problem is that they aren’t being encouraged enough to be given a ball in the first ten overs and being told to win a game of cricket. The conditions haven’t allowed them to express themselves.
“In the game at the moment you could pick four quicks and if you had to pick an all-rounder you could pick a medium pacer and still do well – you’d win with that team, with no spinner, which to me is a shock.
“If we really want to win a series in India, which is the final frontier, then we have to start providing (conditions) at home.”
Originally published as Warne’s dire warning for Aussie cricket