Matt Parkinson fears he will be kept waiting for a Test cap unless he improves his batting and fielding.
The Lancashire leg-spinner has toured with England for three consecutive winters without playing a Test.
Parkinson admits he feels a ‘long way away’ from the team following his most recent snub in the West Indies, where he was ‘gutted’ not to feature.
Matt Parkinson fears he will be kept waiting for a Test cap unless he improves his batting and fielding
The Lancashire leg-spinner (back row, furthest right) has toured with England for three consecutive winters without playing a Test
Now the 25-year-old thinks he must strengthen the other aspects of his game to stand a chance of replacing Jack Leach in England’s XI, even though he took 40 first-class wickets last season.
‘You know roughly what you need to do. I need to improve the other two parts of my game – the batting and the fielding,’ said Parkinson, who averages just 7.65 with the bat in first-class cricket.
‘They don’t say it but it’s the three disciplines of the game. They obviously don’t think I’m as good as Leachy or that I fit into the side currently.
‘It’s just becoming more apparent that it’s a way into the side – to not be a No11, be a No9. Don’t be the worst fielder, be part of the pack.
Now he thinks he must strengthen the other aspects of his game to stand a chance of replacing Jack Leach (left) in England’s XI
‘It’s up to me to improve. Either I improve my batting and fielding, or I take my bowling to a level where they can’t say no.’
England have historically been nervous to pick leg-spinners in Test matches and have played only five this century – Ian Salisbury, Chris Schofield, Scott Borthwick, Adil Rashid and Mason Crane.
‘I think everyone wants a Shane Warne or a Stuart MacGill and I’m not those people,’ said Parkinson, who has previously been praised by late Australian great Warne.
‘I wouldn’t say nervousness is the right word, I just think they struggle to fit a leg-spinner that doesn’t bat or field well into a side. That’s my issue.’
Lancashire coach Glen Chapple complained that Parkinson had endured a ‘wasted winter’ in Australia, when he was a non-playing member of the England Lions squad, and West Indies, when he was not picked on two pitches conducive for spin in a 1-0 series defeat.
Parkinson averages just 7.65 with the bat in first-class cricket for his county Lancashire
Parkinson said: ‘In Australia, I was the only Lions player who didn’t play. It kind of sums up my England career so far.
‘It was frustrating because it’s the only trip where I’ve gone and felt borderline I didn’t get much out of it. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It was bleak.
‘The West Indies was the first time I felt I deserved a place in the squad and wasn’t there as a young leg-spinner with potential.
‘I was gutted not to play again but it’s the first time I’d been comfortable in my own skin, knowing that what I do is good enough to have me there. It’s just up to them now with selection.
‘I’m still confident but it’s tough to keep getting up for trips if you’re not involved again.
‘I might not be involved again until the winter. I say bye to the lads and don’t see them again until October. It is tough and you feel a long way away.
Parkinson was the only England Lions player who didn’t play during the tour of Australia
‘It’s a weird one because there’s always so much hype and anticipation, ‘We’ve picked Parkinson, we’ve picked a leg-spinner’. It has been frustrating.
‘But we could be having this conversation in 12 months and I’ve made my Test debut. I’d be like, ‘It’s brilliant, it’s all been worth it’. We’ll just see.’
With English spinners under scrutiny again following the Test team’s failings over the winters, Parkinson feels that county pitches are holding bowlers back.
‘It’s a topic I feel quite strongly about,’ he added. ‘There are spinners coming through now and they’re all at clubs where they should be playing ever game.
Parkinson feels that county pitches are holding bowlers back as spinners come under scrutiny
‘They’ve all got good records when they’ve played, they just need to consistently play. You’re never going to improve if you’re not playing.
‘I don’t care how much it’s rained, you can produce wickets that are good and can spin.
‘The problem with the pitches in a lot of places, especially in Division Two and if teams need results, is they panic and they don’t go down the spin route, they go down the green seamer route.
‘It’s an attitude problem. I think teams need to be prepared to lose to play spinners.’