Ten days after T20 Finals Day, when most of the county’s cricketers had their feet up at home, Matt Parkinson and Saqib Mahmood arrived at the Lancashire Indoor School. With England’s tour of South Africa imminent, both players wanted to make sure they were ready for the match if they were selected.

But two weeks later, the bad news came: Neither of them had made the cut. Mahmood had little chance of thinking about it, flying to Pakistan for the PSL playoffs a few days later, but for Parkinson it has been a different story.

I was hoping to have attracted some interest from the Big Bash teams, especially with the influx of young Englishmen involved this season since the increase in the number of foreign players per team from two to three, but it has not been possible. Instead, after moving out of your apartment this summer, you’ve been stuck in the latest UK lockdown on your new home, DIYing and trying not to spend too much time thinking about a frustrating few months.

“I was devastated for not being selected,” says Parkinson. “It was a strange summer, really. I really didn’t know where I was standing. [with England] when I came back to play for Lancashire. I think if you talked to a lot of the fringe boys, [they’d say] It was a pretty tough summer to see where you fit in, just from the lack of cricket we played. “

After suffering the entire confinement, desperate to get back on the field, Parkinson’s summer started in a frustrating way. He was part of the 30-man training team before the test series against the West Indies, then moved on to the 24-man group called up before the ODI series against Ireland, but injured his ankle when tripping on a limit rope in field practice. the day before the first warm-up game between teams.

“When you like international cricket it shows you things in your game that you need to modify, but I am not going to change the whole package just to play for England, I have to be true to what I do.

Matt Parkinson is not planning a full overhaul on his game

“Being in shape throughout the running and then being so close to the season … it was a bad moment,” he says. “I think I played 11 games from T20. I started a little slow but I thought I could have pushed my case into them with a decent ending and was hoping I could sneak away as a backup spinner for Rash [Adil Rashid] but obviously it was not.

“It was Ed Smith who called me. He didn’t really give too much comment, but he would have been making the same phone call to 10 or 15 guys. Obviously the team they took on is fantastic and very difficult.” get in, so all I can do is keep working. There are areas that I know I need to work on, and those are the things that he emphasized. “

Perhaps the blow was softened by the fact that England did not bring a third top-of-the-line roulette to South Africa. After making his T20I and ODI debut last winter, Parkinson still appears to be the obvious replacement if Rashid is injured on the eve of the T20 World Cup.

But he doesn’t see it that way. “You can’t have the mentality that you’re the backup; that’s when you get a little comfortable,” he says. Instead, he mentions Danny Briggs, who just flew to Australia for his first BBL season with the Adelaide Strikers, and Mason Crane, who was part of a small training group in Loughborough last week, as potential rivals, with him. injured Liam Dawson another. strong candidate.

The main question surrounding Parkinson’s has always been his rhythm, or more accurately, his lack of rhythm, and whether it should be considered a strength or a weakness. Operating at around 47 mph / 75 km / h, it is the slowest bowler in the CricViz database, dating back to around 2006, and as a result, its standard length is 0.7 m fuller than that of the average leg in T20 cricket, as he throws the ball up rather than drifting it off the field.

He admits to occasional frustrations when over-scrutinized, but has been working with Carl Crowe, the T20 spin trainer who has worked closely with Sunil Narine and has been used by Lancashire as a consultant, among others, to help him transition to the next level “as smooth and natural as possible”.

“It’s not something I’m going to force,” he says.[but] It would be nice to have it on me to get it to 51, 52 mph, not all balls, but when I feel it is necessary. What I have achieved so far has been the way I play.

“The speed and skills I have at the moment are obviously doing well for me in the Blast. I like to think that I have decent control for a leg clamp, and I get a bit of drift and also some spin. A taste for it. International cricket shows you the little things in your game that you need to tweak, but I’m not going to change the whole package just to play for England, I have to be true to what I do. “

Meanwhile, he has half an eye on the postponed test tour from England to Sri Lanka in early 2021, and he’s determined not to be typecast as a white-ball shooter. Before the trip was called off due to the pandemic in March, he had started defending the team with five wickets in 24 overs in warm-up games, and with Rashid seemingly out of Test competition, he has every chance of a call. up.

That said, the only red ball cricket he has played since was for Team Buttler in the England team play; would have played a Bob Willis Trophy game for Lancashire, but slipped in warm-up on the morning of the game.

“It was a bit of a stinky summer on that front,” he laughs. “I think that March break was a good opportunity to evaluate and that was probably my main learning. I probably strayed a bit from my strengths in the winter, but I did well at the end of the Blast when I relaxed and threw how I usually do. I make “.