Lancashire spinner Matt Parkinson hopes that two Test matches against West Indies at Emirates Old Trafford next month will aid his chance of a debut.
Bolton-born Parkinson is in England’s 30 man training squad for the series, who will meet up at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl next Tuesday (June 23) to prepare for the first Test of the series, which begins at the same ground on July 8.
The players and management will remain on site at the Ageas Bowl, training in the stadium’s facilities and living in its Hilton Hotel, before an inter-squad practice match on July 1, after which the squad will be reduced to 15 players for the first Test.
They will then move to Manchester for the remaining two Tests of the series and follow the same program at Emirates Old Trafford, which also has a Hilton Hotel on-site.
23 year-old Parkinson, who made his Lancashire debut in 2016, hopes that his performances in training and the prospect of home advantage will bolster his claim for a place in the final squad and then a Test debut.
He said: “It does spin at Emirates Old Trafford and it is a sort of pitch where they do sometimes play two spinners.
“I think they’ve picked five spinners in the thirty man squad, so it’s up to me to perform well in the nets and the inter-squad match and try to feature.
After making his T20I and ODI debuts on tour to New Zealand and South Africa last winter, the leg-spinner was in Sri Lanka with England in March, before the Test series was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He claimed figures of 4/68 in England’s tour match against a Sri Lanka Cricket XI, and could have been in line for a Test debut had the series been played, but Parkinson is able to look back at the tour as a step in the right direction.
“It was a tough winter before that, and to have performed as well as I did in the opening ten days in Sri Lanka was pleasing.
“When the Test series was first cancelled, I was gutted, I thought I could miss out on playing. But as the last couple of months have unfolded and things have got worse and worse, you start to see cricket for what it really is – which is a game.
“I was gutted initially, because I felt I didn’t do enough in New Zealand or South Africa with the red ball to warrant selection and the warm up games didn’t go as well as I would’ve wanted.
“But to have played well in Sri Lanka and to have ticked that box with the four wickets in the lead up to the Test match, it was just nice to be in more of a relaxed position and think ‘you have actually done ok here’ and if I’m selected then I’m ready to go.
“Now, I look back on Sri Lanka and I think I showed some improvements from the winter. Fingers crossed that Joe Root and Chris Silverwood like what they see and I keep getting picked.”
After spending the last three weeks training with Lancashire, the Boltonian is looking forward to seeing his England teammates again.
“It’s a very easy squad to go into as a new player. I can’t speak highly enough of the boys and the coaching staff and the way that they make it easy to go into that environment. I’m sure all the lads who are in there for the first time will say the same.
“I think it will be weird actually, in lockdown, in England – I don’t think it will be as fun as other tours that I’ve been on.
“I’m going to try to make it as homely as possible. I’m going to take my coffee machine down with me, I’ve got a good number of books that I’m going to read and I’ll take my PlayStation as well.
“I’m reading The Last Kingdom books by Bernard Cornwell at the minute – they’re very good, I’d recommend them.”
However, Parkinson remains fully focused on his cricket and the task of forcing his way into the Test team.
“There was lot of learning over the winter and fingers crossed that I can show people that I’ve improved.
“I’m just looking to impress and hopefully pick up where I left off in Sri Lanka.”
Parkinson will be joined by Lancashire teammates James Anderson, Jos Buttler, Keaton Jennings, and Saqib Mahmood in the squad of 30.
England’s 30 man training squad in full: Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire), Dominic Bess (Somerset), James Bracey (Gloucestershire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Joe Denly (Kent), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Lewis Gregory (Somerset), Keaton Jennings (Lancashire), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Craig Overton (Somerset), Jamie Overton (Somerset), Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Amar Virdi (Surrey), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham).
Feature image courtesy of Lancs CCC on Twitter, with thanks