WITH flurries of snow skidding across its square, early April at Emirates Old Trafford couldn’t look less inviting for a young leg spinner hoping to impress with the red ball.

But if the last few months have proved anything it’s that Bolton-born Matt Parkinson is made of sterner stuff.

Since flying out to Columbo at the beginning of January, the 24-year-old has been a perennial bench warmer as a reserve for both Test series against Sri Lanka and India, as well as the five Twenty20s that followed.

Even when the Lancashire player did make the squad for the ODI series against Virat Kohli’s men it was Adil Rashid who stepped into the wrist spinning berth, leaving Parkinson flying back to the UK having played no competitive cricket for the entire tour.

“There is a little bit of frustration there,” said Parkinson.

“I’d like to think I improved as a cricketer over the winter and spending three months in the England squad is obviously amazing as is being surrounded by the likes of Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jimmy Anderson.

“Being around that level of player can only do you good, but it was disappointing not playing in the white ball games especially after being named in the squad which probably got my hopes up a bit after being there for so long.

“Hopefully I’m still in the mix but it’s tough to know where you stand when you’re not being selected.

"It’s clearer in the white ball for me and I’d like to think I’m behind Rashid as the wrist spinning option but then again if you ask that question in six months time there might be three spinners all vying for that slot.

"The main thing is just to perform for Lancashire and Manchester Originals in The Hundred this summer and if I get selected for an England squad deal with it then.”

Without the chance to prove himself on the pitch, development and learning from the experience became the key factors for the former Bolton School student.

“I’d like to think the work I’ve done out there will seep into my game this summer,” he said.

“That’s probably the toughest thing to judge – are you improving or not?

"You can get signs from the batters and I think as I bowled to Root and Stokes throughout the trip I got better and more challenging for them. I guess it’s up to me now to put that in place for Lancashire in the Championship.”

Englands Adil Rashid

England's Adil Rashid

Despite being identified as a natural heir to Rashid and his phenomenal success for Lancashire Lightning in The Blast, Parkinson is still keen to be seen as a player that can play all formats of the game.

“The aim is to play more Championship cricket,” he said.

“Since my debut I’ve not played a great deal but when I have played I’ve done quite well.

"To be selected in Test squads for England after not that much cricket is quite an odd feeling really so I want to target these games at the start of the season and play in all of them.”

Winning a place as a spinner in Lancashire’s red ball side won’t be easy though with the likes of Tom Hartley and Jack Morley both impressing in their debut season.

“We’ve had a bit of a changing of the guard recently,” said Parkinson.

“I remember when I first started we had Stephen Parry, Simon Kerrigan and Aaron Lilley and now there’s me, Jack and Tom.

“It’s a very strong spinning group and they’re both great lads.

"The scheduling doesn’t do spinners much of a favour, but I’m very fortunate to play at Emirates Old Trafford where it does spin.

"I don’t think I’d like a gig in some other places in the country in April and May and if we are going to produce good spinners moving forward we probably need to play more Championship cricket later in the summer.”

While crowds will not be allowed back until later in the summer, Parkinson got a taste of the fanatical following for cricket in India and hopes it can be replicated in Manchester again this summer.

“It was lovely this winter to have some crowds in and I think it raises most players’ games,” he added.

“You feel like there is more pressure on and more emotion in the middle so I’m massively looking forward to crowds being back.

“We have a group of lads who buzz off the crowd and we have a few showmen who play up to it a bit so it won’t just be beneficial for me but hopefully the team as well.”

Lancashire kick off their season in the County Championship against Sussex at Emirates Old Trafford on Thursday.