Matt Parkinson did not forget the part Staffordshire played in his development when he made his England Test debut against New Zealand at Lord’s.
The 26-year-old leg-spinner may be a proud Lancastrian and a product of the Red Rose Academy but it was a season playing for Staffordshire, in what is now National Counties cricket, in 2014 that gave Parkinson his first experience of senior county cricket.
Parkinson was summoned from his home in Manchester to Lord’s to make his Test debut as a concussion substitute for the injured Jack Leach last Thursday.
Shortly after the news of the unexpected call-up was announced Parkinson’s father, Dave, sent a text to Dave Cartledge, Staffordshire’s director of cricket, saying that Matt had not forgotten the part Staffordshire played at an important stage in his career and that he would be forever grateful for the opportunity they gave him.
“We had a lad called Tom Steele, another leg-spinner, who was on the Academy at Lancashire and I made several trips to Lancashire to talk to John Stanworth, who was then Lancashire’s academy manager, about Tom,” Cartledge said.
Congratulations to @mattyparky96 on earning his first England Test cap. His family and friends will obviously be hugely proud, but so is everyone associated with Staffs after Parky spent part of his development with the county. 👏👏👏
— Staffordshire CCC (@StaffsCCC) June 3, 2022
“So, I got to know John quite well and when we were looking for a quality spinner I asked John whether he had one ee could borrow.
“He said: ‘we’ve got spinners hanging off trees up here. Give me a couple of days and I’ll come back to you.’
“When he came back he said he had two: Matt Parkinson who was then a 17-year-old leg-spinner or Mattie McKiernan, another leg-spinner who is now with Derbyshire, who was a little bit older.
“John said: ‘I know you’ll like the older one but I’d like you to have the younger one.’ I said:’ I’ll have whichever one you want us to have.’
“So, John went away and had a word with Matt’s parents and that was it really. He came to a couple of indoor nets in pre-season and he was absolutely brilliant.
“We spoke about what format he was going to play in but he ended up playing in everything because he was so good.
“The ball came out so natural, he didn’t bowl a bad ball. You expect batsmen to target a young leg-spinner but they couldn’t do that with Matt because he was so good. So, they had a go at Paul Byrne, our slow left-armer. Byrnie got all the wickets but Matt made that possible.
“When he went back to Lancashire John Stanworth said: ‘don’t under-estimate what Staffordshire have done for him because you have given him senior cricket.’
“I met the family, who are very nice and I’m quite good friends with his dad so to get that text message from him shows that they haven’t forgotten Staffordshire.
“Of course, after Matt had gone back to Lancashire, his twin brother Callum came to play for us before he went to Derbyshire, then Leicestershire.”
Parkinson is the latest in a long line of players to have worn a green cap with a Staffordshire knot badge before a blue one with three Lions on it following the likes of Sydney Barnes, Jack Ikin, Ken Higgs, David Steele, Bob Taylor, Rob Bailey, Joey Benjamin, Dean Headley, Paul Taylor, Dominic Cork and Kim Barnett.
With hard league cricket played across the county, Staffordshire have also produced a steady stream of talented county cricketers with Alex Hughes and Alex Thomson (Derbyshire), Joe Leach (Worcestershire) and Ethan Brookes, Manraj Johal, Dan Mousley and Rob Yates (Warwickshire) all benefiting, like Parkinson, from exposure to senior county cricket at a young age.