It would be easy to assume that spinners have been getting more of a go than normal in the Bob Willis Trophy, with baking-hot temperatures around the country this week and the season starting on dry August pitches rather than April’s green mambas.
But surprisingly, it has been business as normal for the most part, with almost exactly the same percentage of overs being bowled by spinners this season as last. That said, there are more English spinners in action, with Jeetan Patel, R Ashwin and Keshav Maharaj all contributing significantly to the number of spin overs in the 2019 County Championship.
In terms of results, though, there are positive signs in the first two rounds of games. Averages for both spinners and seamers have dipped, but the drop has been more substantial among spinners.
Simon Harmer is unsurprisingly leading the pack, with 20 wickets at 13.80, but out of the 13 spinners with five or more wickets so far in the BWT, Samit Patel is the only other who is above the age of 25. All except Harmer are England-qualified or on the path towards that status.
Sussex became the first team since Warwickshire in 1977 to lose a first-class county match while taking only one wicket (excluding forfeitures, declarations after one ball, and single-innings games), and head coach Jason Gillespie was understandably frustrated.
“We’re very disappointed with our performance,” he told BBC Sussex. “Full marks to Kent – they played the game very well. From a batting point of view, particularly in the first innings, we had a lot of starts – a lot of batsmen did the hard work, got through tough periods, and didn’t capitalise.
“If we’re completely honest with ourselves, we were well below par with the ball. Our lines and lengths just weren’t quite there, and we just gifted them too many runs. They made it hard for us, but we weren’t bowling enough good deliveries to challenge their defence and we paid the price.”