Two of the four programmes on the International Pathway - the Lions and the Overseas Placements - will come together in Brisbane this week as three promising young spinners head north from Sydney to link up with Andy Flower’s squad.
Sussex all-rounder Delray Rawlins, and leg-spinners Matthew Parkinson of Lancashire and Derbyshire’s Matt Critchley - who have all been playing Grade cricket in Sydney and practising with the New South Wales State squad for the last month - will spend a full week with the Lions in Queensland.
That will mean working with Peter Such, the ECB’s spin-bowling lead, plus Surrey’s Amar Virdi and the Somerset pair of Jack Leach and Dom Bess, the three specialist spinners selected for the Lions’ four-week training camp in Australia – not forgetting Liam Livingstone, Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence.
But the spin-fest does not end there.
Parkinson’s twin brother Callum, a left-arm spinner who made his first-team breakthrough with Leicestershire last year, has been invited to join the Lions for the first half of their winter programme – and Simon Kerrigan has also been practising with the squad having paid his own way with support from Lancashire.
Last but not least Stuart MacGill, the former Australia leg-spinner who has been employed by the ECB for a second consecutive winter to provide specialist coaching and mentoring to Parkinson and Critchley – after forming such a fruitful partnership with Mason Crane last year – has also flown north from Sydney to Brisbane to work alongside Such and share his knowledge with the Pathway spinners.
"We have recognised spin bowling as a priority area, and this is tangible evidence of our commitment to do all we can."
“We have recognised spin bowling as a priority area, and this is tangible evidence of our commitment to do all we can on our Pathway programmes during the winter,” Such explained.
“The way Mason Crane seized the opportunity we provided for him in Sydney last winter has been well-documented, to such an extent that he made his senior England debut in the summer, and is now on the Ashes tour.
“Having the Lions in Brisbane means we can offer further opportunities, experience and support to more of our promising spinners this winter, by bringing Matt Parkinson, Matt Critchley, Delray Rawlins and Stuart MacGill up from Sydney.
“With Brad Taylor and Andrew Salter both in Wellington where they are receiving specialist off-spin coaching and mentoring from Jeetan Patel, we hope that the players and their counties will all gain significant benefit from their winter away.
“The Overseas Placements are designed to give some of our most talented young cricketers – not only spinners, because we also have Ollie Pope in Sydney, and Max Holden and George Bartlett in Perth – the chance to develop their independence on and off the field; to play some tough cricket; and to give them access to a network of quality people who can enhance their skills and knowledge.”
The 17-man Lions squad arrived in Brisbane last week and have been concentrating initially on red-ball skills, building towards a three-day match against a Queensland XI which starts next Monday (November 27).
They then cross Australia to Perth to spend a fortnight working on their white-ball skills including one 50-over match and four T20 fixtures which also form part of the Perth Scorchers preparations for the Big Bash.
The Lions squad to play four-day and one-day series against West Indies A in the Caribbean in February and March will be announced next month.