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 at the launch of Advanced Hair Studio’s new website, 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 said.
“Once upon a time, every state had completely different conditions. Now, there’s a lot of drop-in pitches – Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth is now a drop-in pitch in the new stadium.
“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.
Earlier this month former international batsman Usman Khawaja raised his concerns for the future of spin bowling in Australia.
“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,” Khawaja told Fox Sports News.
“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?
“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.
“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,” Warne lamented.
“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 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.
Warne is a “very proud” ambassador of Advanced Hair Studio, who have developed a new hair loss advice website which provides free advice for COVID-19 victims during the coronavirus pandemic.