Essex v Surrey, Chelmsford, 1st day May 25, 2014

'I can do England spinner job' - Batty

Vithushan Ehantharajah at Chelmsford

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."

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  • Mark on May 26, 2014, 19:14 GMT

    Re - Batty, I agree top character turns the ball significantly. But I saw him in SL 2003 alongside Giles at Galle. In a drawn Test only Murali for them and Giles for us had exceptional economy whilst taking wickets. Batty was far to loose on a track good batsmen shouldn't score quickly on. Ok at 36 the control may be better, but if so why hasn't he been on the radar as a stand in for Swann?

  • Graham on May 26, 2014, 15:38 GMT

    Ridiculous suggestion...make Root do the Job, and bolster with another all rounder, either seam or spin in the bowling side of all round. Forget Gerney now...nice bowler, but nothing more. Each player in the future must be at least 2 dimensional at this level.

  • Neil on May 26, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    Tredwell? batty? We truly have hit an all time low.

  • Android on May 26, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    england selectors should look for a borthwick or kerrigan.

  • Android on May 26, 2014, 10:14 GMT

    i think England have many options than batty who is 36 years old they should look for a young spinner in kerrigan, borthwick and tredwell.

  • Stuart on May 26, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    @Yorkshire-86; The worst cricketer to play for England in the last 15 years? Aftab Habib, Darren Maddy, Gavin Hamilton, Chris Schofield, Ian Ward, Richard Dawson, Kabir Ali, Martin Saggers, Sajid Mahmood? Long queue for that title; though no real contenders since at least the last 5 years.

  • Jeff on May 26, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    No no no please God no! The worst cricketer to play for England in the last 15 years recalled at 36 on the back of one freak innings?

  • R on May 26, 2014, 9:03 GMT

    'Young' Gareth Batty for England? I suggest he is the spin bowlers temporamental equivalent of KP? And Surrey have them both...more tears soon?

  • Gary on May 26, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    Still dont understand why Essex is persevering with Greg Smith. He's been a passenger for far too long. And Grayson has the audacity to complain about Essex not scoring enough runs in the first innings.

  • John on May 26, 2014, 5:40 GMT

    Great, Batty has the confidence to play for England. Now all he has to do is get 10 years younger and a lot better and he'll be a dead-certain pick.

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