Somerset may send England spinner Shoaib Bashir out on loan

Shoaib Bashir - Somerset could send new England star Shoaib Bashir out on loan
Shoaib Bashir, the Somerset off-spinner, may have to join another county if he wants to be picked - Getty Images/Harry Trump

Somerset are open to allowing Shoaib Bashir to go out on loan in search of County Championship action with Jack Leach likely to be picked ahead of him.

The off-spinner has been a breakout star of England’s tour of India but could return to Leach’s shadow at the start of the season in what are likely to be conditions unkind to spin.

Bashir, 20, has picked up 12 wickets in two Tests against India, two more than he managed in six first-class matches in his first season at Somerset in 2023. As a result, he will return to county cricket a different player, with England coach Brendon McCullum saying Somerset and Lancashire would be “a bit mad” not to pick Bashir and Tom Hartley, the leading wicket-taker in the series in India.

The catch is that both men are behind more experienced spinners at their counties. While Bashir is nominally Jack Leach’s understudy, Hartley is vying with Australia legend Nathan Lyon for a spot in Lancashire’s XI.

Lancashire head coach Dale Benkenstein said earlier this week that there would be “a few headaches trying to get him [Hartley] in”, although they could back his promising batting at No 7 as a second spinner alongside three seamers.

Leach in fitness race for season curtain-raiser

Somerset, meanwhile, have struck a more conciliatory tone. Leach underwent surgery on a knee injury this week, and will be touch and go to make the start of the season. If Bashir does not get game time, head coach Jason Kerr says the county would let him go out on loan.

“It’s certainly not easy but I always try and put myself in the player’s shoes and what they want is to play cricket,” Kerr said.

“Bash [Bashir] will be on cloud nine right now and riding that. He would have seen the world very differently at the start of the winter than he does now that he’s had international opportunities and done very well. So it’s important to have really honest, transparent conversations.

“We start the season on April 5th and I’d be surprised if too many teams are playing two specialist spinners so understand there will be some questions about it. There’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge, but what I’m not going to do is stand in the way of anyone’s opportunity.

“We will always do what is best for the player and we’ve done it time and time again. We’ve allowed people to go on loan and get some cricket because it can benefit them and us in the future, and we’ve said no to players because they’re next in line and we might need them.

“We will look at each case as it arises but, historically, we’ve been open to it.”

Crane joins Glamorgan on loan

Exactly where Bashir might find a loan is unclear, with the options slimming further as Glamorgan announced the signing of capped leg-spinner Mason Crane on a season-long loan from Hampshire. An alternative would be for England to put on extra coaching sessions with their spin-bowling specialist coaches Jeetan Patel and Graeme Swann in order to aid the development of a bowler lacking competitive action.

Kerr hinted that Leach, who is out of contract at the end of the season, remains Somerset’s first-choice spinners. The county have been in this position before, with Dom Bess eventually moving to Yorkshire in search of cricket.

“It’s important we see both of the guys bowling first but we also look at what Leachy has done for club and country over the years,” he said.

“We always want competition for places and we want it to be healthy. Nobody has the right to start but Jack has got a lot of experience and, from my side, that counts for a lot. Bash has so much time to grow and to become a world-class spinner who can bowl on all surfaces and know when to defend and attack. He’ll be coming back from India to very different conditions in the UK.

“We’re an incredibly ambitious club and we want to inspire players to represent England. We want to help them fulfil those aspirations and that doesn’t change whether it’s Shoaib or Jack.”


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