England spinner Shoaib Bashir left out by Somerset despite Jack Leach injury

Shoaib Bashir signs autographs for Somerset fans but is not playing
Shoaib Bashir signs autographs for Somerset fans but is not playing - Getty Images/Harry Trump

A breakout tour of India and an injury to Jack Leach was still not enough to earn young England spinner Shoaib Bashir selection for Somerset’s first game of the season at Canterbury.

After the entire opening day was washed out, Somerset opted for a five-strong seam attack – plus the part-time option of Tom Lammonby’s left-arm medium pace – for their game against Kent. That meant there was no space for Bashir, the 20-year-old off-spinner who took 17 wickets in three Tests in India.

That despite the use of the Kookaburra ball in the opening two rounds of Championship fixtures, which is a move partially designed to promote spin bowling at the expense of seam, and Leach’s injury. Somerset and England’s No 1 spinner Leach is out until May with the knee injury he picked up in the opening Test of the tour of India.

The issue of game-time for young English spinners has been a hot topic since the tour of India, with the Test team’s head coach saying the counties would be “slightly mad” not to pick Bashir and Tom Hartley, the Lancashire left-armer.

Hartley, who played all five Tests in India, made Lancashire’s XI for the first game of the season alongside the great Australian spinner Nathan Lyon after the first four sessions of their match against champions Surrey were washed out by the Manchester weather.

“I know what Baz [Brendon McCullum] has come out and said in the media, and that’s all well and good – but I’m not here to take Tom’s spot,” Lyon said this week. “I’m here to bowl in tandem with Tom. If Tom calls me every day, sits down with me for a coffee every day, to talk spin bowling, I’m more than happy to do that.”

Somerset are not the only county to go in without specialist spin in the opening round. Glamorgan left out Mason Crane, who is on loan from Hampshire, for their game at Lord’s, where captain Sam Northeast racked up a double century.

Hartley was selected at No 7 in a Lancashire side that also included the great Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon. While Lancashire batted first in another game that saw the opening day washed out, picking the two spinners appears a wise move. Surrey’s spin twins, Dan Lawrence and Cam Steel, both took career best figures in sharing nine wickets.

Lawrence arrived from Essex with just 22 first-class wickets but his stated aim is to become an all-rounder. On his Surrey debut, he bowled more overs than ever before in first-class cricket, and picked up career-best figures of four for 91 in a very encouraging display as Lancashire were bowled out or 202.