TOO much of a risk or England’s spin saviour?

That’s the debate circling around Bolton’s latest international star as 2019 becomes 2020.

A fine summer for Lancashire meant Heaton leg spinner Matt Parkinson headed first to New Zealand and then onto South Africa as part of Joe Root’s bowling options.

The Kiwi tour saw him taste senior international cricket for the first time, playing in two Twenty20 internationals and taking four wickets on his second appearance as England won the series, but the 23-year-old has been left waiting in the wings against the Proteas in the first two Tests.

After struggling during an appearance in a warm-up game, Parkinson saw Dom Bess, a late call-up to a squad ravaged by illness and injury, step in for the unwell Jack Leach for the second Test, Root and the England management having gone for an all-seam attack in the opener.

Parkinson is desperate to prove he is as big a threat in the red-ball game as he is with a white ball in his hand.

But certainly internationally, the former Bolton School pupil is being kept under wraps for now and may be a victim of England’s chequered recent past with leg spinners.

Adil Rashid is perhaps an exception, although his Test career has not hit the heights many expected, but Scott Borthwick and Mason Crane have both come and gone in recent years while, rewinding the clock back a little further, no Lancashire cricket fan needs reminding of Chris Schofield’s fleeting career at the highest level.

As a wrist spinner, Parkinson is a wicket taker and so often the thought when picking a spinner is about control.

He also does not offer a lot with the bat, surely something which went into selecting Bess, who has a Test half-century to his name and could in theory provide support to what is an under-cooked batting line-up lacking in experience and form.

Parkinson will hope he can emerge with some credit from a tough tour heading in to what looks on paper to be another big summer ahead.

Having starred for the Red Rose in 2019, he is one of the homegrown picks for the new Manchester Originals franchise that will play at Old Trafford in The Hundred, the controversial new competition coming to free-to-air television.

It’s a whole new audience for him to impress, no player having taken more wickets in the original version of crash, bang, wallop cricket, the Twenty20 Blast, over the last three years.

Matt is of course only one part of the Parkinson story, twin brother Callum proving to be a fine county professional with Leicestershire, principally impressing in the shorter format.

He has taken 42 wickets in 43 T20 games, made 21 first-class appearances and 13 in List A, or 50-over, cricket.

All that has seen him rewarded with a new two-year contract at Grace Road in the off-season, one which Callum has been spending developing his game further by playing grade cricket in Adelaide, Australia.

The twins’ paths crossed remarkably in September, as after dismissing each other in the same game Callum was was then on the field standing yards away from his sibling when Parkinson learned he was being drafted into England’s squad – after fellow call-up Saqib Mahmood shouted the news from the Lancashire balcony.

It was a bittersweet moment for Matt, his mum having passed away in July shortly after he recorded career-best four-day figures of a 10-165 against Sussex in the County Championship.

It was one of just four appearances he made for Lancashire in the competition in 2019 but it was enough to convince England he might be their man going forwards.

Now with age very much still on his side, can he take the next step?

Hameed bids to kickstart career

The Bolton News:

As England’s struggles in Test cricket continue, plenty of eyes will be on the fortunes of Haseeb Hameed in 2020.

A prodigy destined for great things when he first burst onto the England scene in 2016 against India, he has seen his career stall to an alarming degree since.

But now the 22-year-old top-order batsman is hoping to kickstart his career with Nottinghamshire after being released by Lancashire at the end of the 2019 season.

Will a change of environment make a difference for the former Farnworth Social Circle man dubbed the “Baby Boycott” due to his methodical play at the crease?

The former Bolton School pupil made two half-centuries on three Test appearances having become the fifth-youngest batsman to chalk up 1,000 in a season in 2016.

Named Lancashire’s player of the year that summer, if he can rediscover that kind of form then his return to the international scene may be a rapid one.

In all he has scored just shy of 3,000 runs in first-class cricket to date and averaged almost 44 in his three England appearances only for a broken finger to cut short his stint on the international stage just as he looked set for an extended run.

That his name continues to be mentioned by pundits as Joe Root’s men struggle with the bat from series to series shows just what an opportunity he has.

Bohannon hopes for more of the same in 2020

The Bolton News:

One man looking to prove that last summer was just the start for him will be Josh Bohannon.

The former Farnworth Social star had a breakthrough 2019 that saw him bag a maiden first-class century and a new Lancashire deal, until the end of the 2021 season, and be named the club’s Young Player of the Year.

Bohannon was a mainstay of the Red Rose side during a hugely impressive summer for the county,

Missing only three first XI matches across all competitions as Lancashire won County Championship promotion and reached the knockout stages of both limited-overs tournaments, the former Harper Green High School pupil more than justified his full-time promotion to the first team.

After narrowly missing out on a maiden first-class century against Leicestershire in May, finishing on 98 not out, Bohannon, pictured, reached three figures in the penultimate home game of the season against Derbyshire at Old Trafford, finally being dismissed for 174.

The right-hander, ending the season at number three having been promoted through the batting order, finished with an average of 52.44 across 11 matches, bettered only by captain Dane Vilas.

Bohannon added 156 Royal London One-Day Cup runs, including a maiden half-century against Yorkshire at Headingley, and was an ever-present in the Vitality Blast side that reached the quarter-finals.

A successful summer saw him further rise through the county ranks having been named as Lancashire’s Breakthrough Player of the Year in 2018.

Now his challenge will be for Bohannon to translate this kind of form into the top tier of the County Championship as Lancashire push for honours in 2020.