‘I can do England spinner job’ – Batty
Surrey’s 36-year-old offspinner Gareth Batty, fresh from taking a career best 8 for 68 against Essex at Chelmsford, believes he is the man to replace Graeme Swann as England’s lead spinner.
Batty’s last appearance for England came in a rain-affected ODI defeat to West Indies in March 2009, while his last Test match was much further back, in June 2005, against Bangladesh at Chester-le-Street. Since his last game in an England shirt, Batty has taken 145 first-class wickets at an average of 38.72. While those figures are not spectacular, Batty feels he is at a place in his career where his confidence in his ability is at an all-time high.
“I think my skills are good enough,” Batty told ESPNcricinfo. “I look around, as an offspinner and batting, I don’t see anybody who can do it the way I can. I truly believe that. It’s the first time in a very long time.
“I think sometimes you just understand the positions your body gets into and you know what reaction you get at the end of that. I think I am relatively comfortable now at saying, ‘This ball I’m going to do this’ and I can execute it.”
Batty’s seven Tests came mostly as back-up to Ashley Giles, with 11 wickets to his name and a modest bowling average of 66.63. Giles eventually made way for Monty Panesar, before Graeme Swann made the role his own from the end of 2008 until his retirement just before the 2013 Boxing Day Test, taking 255 wickets at 29.96.
Scott Borthwick was England’s spinner in their most recent Test but, with uncertainty as to who will fill the role against Sri Lanka in the series beginning on June 12, Batty is keen to put his hand up.
“I think in patches over the last few years I’ve bowled really well,” he said. “Swanny was the best England spinner ever and I was not going to oust him. Now, I think I’m good enough to do it. I’d say it’s the first time in my career that I would actually say that to people – easily, I can do the job.”
Batty’s was the first eight-wicket haul for a Surrey spinner since Anil Kumble took 8 for 100 against Northamptonshire at The Oval in 2006. Having just recovered from a broken hand, Batty came into the side to replace Stuart Meaker and is keen to build on his impressive start to push his England claims.
“If I’m going to get picked, first and foremost, I’ve got to play for Surrey. It’s been nice to get a game and take a few wickets. I felt I’m bowling as well as I ever have done, all this year really. I didn’t quite do what I wanted to do at the end of last year, but I have rectified a few things and it’s just nice when you get a few poles.”