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Jake Lintott: Wrist spinners cashing in on England white-ball revolution

The Birmingham Bears wrist-spinner believes the influx of wrist-spin in the Vitality Blast is a positive side-effect of the England Men's positive white-ball approach.

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Jake Lintott: Wrist spinners cashing in on England white-ball revolution

Birmingham Bears wrist spinner Jake Lintott

By Jack Butler, ECB Reporters Network

If a wrist spinner is a prized asset in a T20 attack then Jake Lintott provides an even greater luxury. 

Lintott is a player rightly in high demand now, although the rise of spin in T20 cricket was never predicted when the then Twenty20 Cup, now Vitality Blast, began 20 years ago.

Lintott, like spinners in general, had to wait for his chance.

And the 29-year-old believes a key reason for that is down to the positive culture set in the England Men white-ball team over recent years.

He believes that has established a trend amongst the counties and, more specifically, benefitted his fellow spinners.

“Our value has definitely gone up,” Lintott said.

"I think England's focus on getting big totals and letting a wrist spinner do the work has helped. You can see that mindset filtering down into counties, as there are hardly any teams without a leg spinner in the Blast this year. It's good to see us getting backed across the country."

In Lintott's case, that backing took longer than most

T20 cricket belatedly gave him his break, breathing life into the career of a cricketer, who, for no fault of his own, could have been lost in the system. Lintott had made a few appearances for Hampshire and Gloucestershire, which was followed by a period of teaching alongside professional cricket.

But he only signed his first professional full-time contract aged 27 - dubbed the 'Jamie Vardy of Cricket' by his county team-mate Carlos Brathwaite. 

Now, he is finally getting the reward for what he rightly describes as “a lot of hard work”.

A contract in The Hundred and stints in the CPL and BPL followed an impressive Blast campaign in 2021. The past 12 months the time Lintott says when “everything clicked into place”.

It is surprising, of course, that his skills weren't rewarded sooner. His method is uncomplicated but effective. His record in the Blast and success as a Hundred wildcard last year only furthered his status as one of the brightest talents on the circuit.

Lintott is unique, yes, but for all the talk about his action, he likes to keep things "simple", bowling his stock deliveries regularly. Of note, is his googly, a delivery that has proved a menace in the Blast this year, deceptively spinning away from right-handed batters, leaving team-mate Alex Davies scratching his head behind the stumps. The wicketkeeper told Lintott last week: “no one can pick it”. 

"I get a lot of success when people end up swinging across that ball," Lintott added.

“Perhaps, I'm slightly different to the way spinners up and down the country work because I don't go searching for wickets. Instead, I’m thinking about shutting batters down, and not getting hit. Batters then go looking for things, and that's where I get my success. I'm not sure why people can't pick [the googly], but that seems to be the case. It’s going nicely at the moment."

To say his efforts are "going nicely" is a bit of an understatement though.

His career T20 economy stands at just over seven. While his third season at Birmingham Bears has brought similar returns to his first two. He has 14 wickets at 21. It’s not bad at all.

Yet, due to this success, there is now a new challenge for Lintott to overcome this season. Deception, his key asset, becomes more difficult as his reputation grows. Simply, there are more eyes on him, and more analysts picking through his action. 

Lintott though is no stranger to a challenge. He remains adamant he is one step ahead of his opponents. And it's difficult not to believe him. 

"Analysis is a real positive,” he explains. “I focus a lot of my time and energy on researching batters, working out how to prevent them from hitting the ball out of the ground. I have a pretty good idea of what they are trying to do when they face me.”

He pauses, knowing what question is about to be asked. 

“Yeah, I’m not going to give that away though.”

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