Gareth Batty is confident fellow spin-king Mason Crane has what it takes to be an England international in the coming years – so long as he doesn’t shirk his desire to improve.
Shoreham-by-Sea’s Crane enjoyed making history over the winter, becoming the first overseas cricketer to play for New South Wales in more than 30 years in Australia’s Sheffield Shield competition.
He also impressed in England’s curtain-raising domestic North v South competition in March – but has since found the going tougher in the cut and thrust of Championship cricket.
In fact the leg spinner has yet to turn out for Hampshire this season, with pitches far from suiting the 20-year-old at this early stage.
But fellow spinner Batty, the Surrey captain who toured with England in Bangladesh in India, believes highlights are only just beginning for Crane, urging him to maintain development on and off the pitch.
“He was picked as an overseas player which, as a young player and spinner in particular, is an amazing thing for him,” said Batty, speaking at the launch of the Royal London One-Day Cup.
“That in itself was a massive feat, he hasn’t played yet this summer and it’s not easy for spinners to feature when we start this early, but he’s just got to keep focusing on where he wants to get to.
“He’s not the finished article yet, so he has to focus on getting that process right instead of worrying about the number of wickets he’s taking. If he gets the process spot on then the wickets will take care of themselves.
“He just needs to keep learning, he’s a bubbly lad who wants to keep learning and keep developing and he has earnt himself a very big opportunity now.”
As a leg spinner Crane is a rare commodity in English cricket, bursting onto the scene with Hampshire when just an 18-year-old in the summer of 2015.
Since then, talk has been about when, not if, he would make an England debut, praise he has always been keen to play down as he continues to get a foothold on his own abilities.
But for Batty, those dreams have become instantly relatable, travelling with England 11 years since his last international appearance, keen to make sure Crane has the most important attribute: self-belief.
He added: “He should dream, every young cricketer should dream, but then he should be waking up from that and making sure he gets the process that allows that to happen.
“If he gets to a place where he doesn’t have to worry whether people think he is good, instead having that inner confidence, then he can take his game to a whole new level.
“In terms of England, he’s got Adil Rashid ahead of him, Moeen Ali too, so he’s got some work to do because none of those guys have done anything wrong so far.”
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