Matt Parkinson admits he was “gutted” to spend another winter watching England from the boundary edge and believes county pitches are holding back the development of spinners.
The Lancashire leg-spinner traveled Down Under with the Lions during England’s fateful Ashes series, without making the senior squad, before being selected for the Test tour of the West Indies but failing to get a game.
Having endured a similar situation in the sub-continent last winter, traveling in Covid-secure bubbles without taking to the field, it would be easy for Parkinson to lose heart.
“Obviously, I was gutted not to play again,” the 25-year-old said.
“I came close in the second Test in Barbados and then the media were reporting that I might play in Grenada. But the lads went to training and said it was a green top, so that was tough to take.
“One thing that saved me, I reckoned, was that it was the first time I’d been away with an England squad thinking that I warranted a place.
“It came on the back of a decent season with Lancashire, and I wasn’t just named in the squad as a reserve or a Covid replacement.
“That was nice and kept me going.
“It’s the first time I’d been comfortable in my own skin, knowing that what I do is good enough to have me there. It’s just up to them now with selection.”
Parkinson insists he would be able to go through it all again, adding: “Yeah, I think I can. There are worse places to be than in an England squad.
“Now Covid is opening up, it will be more sustainable to do that.
“I’m hoping that every time they see me, they think I’ve improved and I’m closer to playing.
“I can’t dictate selection. All I can do is perform for Lancashire, which I did last season.
“I’m still confident (a Test call-up will come). But it’s tough to keep getting up for trips if you’re not involved again.
“I might not be involved again until the winter. I say bye to the lads and don’t see them again until October.
“It is tough and you feel a long way away. But the thing I can control is my performances for Lancashire. That’s enough for me.
“If a Test cap comes, fantastic. If it doesn’t, I’ve got enough here at Lancashire to have a good career.”
Parkinson, who has played five one-day internationals and four T20 internationals, is keen to develop his game, improving his batting and fielding as well as enhancing his skills with the ball.
“I’m trying to get my top speed up. I think I have got a bit quicker, but I’m trying to take that to the next level,” he added.
“Googlies, sliders, etc. It’s not one thing where I’m thinking, ‘If I do this, I will play for England’. It’s the whole package.
“I’m very lucky. I’m one of the few leg-spinners in the country who will play 90 per cent of games. I hope so anyway.
“I never put an emphasis on getting into the Test side or focusing on getting into the white-ball side.”
The Lancashire spinner finds himself behind Somerset’s Jack Leach in the Test pecking order, but the left-armer has come under pressure after an underwhelming winter.
Parkinson claimed 36 wickets in the County Championship last season at an impressive average of 20.55.
But he believes more needs to be done to promote spin bowling in England and ensure spinners get their opportunity.
“It’s a topic I feel quite strongly about,” Parkinson said.
“It’s tough because the spinners coming through now, they’re all at clubs where you think that spinners should play every single game.
“They’ve all got good records when they’ve played, they just need to consistently play. Then, in two or three years’ time, you’ll have a group of spinners who have all played 60 or 70 games and have taken wickets consistently.
“You have a generic county seamer who has played 60 or 70 games because he’s part of a four-man seam attack. I’m almost 26 and have played 35 games. You’re never going to improve if you’re not playing.
“I think there does need to be a shift towards producing flat pitches to bring spinners into the game.”