South Africa in England 2017 July 11, 2017

Dawson hopes to seek out Warne's advice


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Have England found the perfect balance?

Liam Dawson hopes to be able to pick the brains of Shane Warne during the Test series against South Africa but believes he remains primarily a batsman with his bowling a valuable second string.

Dawson, who made his Test debut against India in Chennai, was a surprise inclusion in Joe Root's first Test squad as captain. He had a mixed experience at Lord's, bagging a pair but also picking up four wickets including the key scalp of Hashim Amla with a beautiful delivery in the second innings.

The view of his own game, that the batting still holds sway - he has opened in the County Championship for Hampshire this season and made 66 on his Test debut - seems to go against the role he was given in the first Test where he was billed as the team's main spinner. Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, said the reasoning behind that had been to take the pressure off Moeen Ali who responded with his first 10-wicket haul in Tests.

Dawson said that he and Moeen were "equal" in terms of their bowling but that he was keen to evolve his left-arm spin by seeking out Warne who was the Hampshire captain when Dawson made his first-class debut against Yorkshire in 2007.

"I will try and catch up with him over the course of this series and have a chat with him about bowling. That would be brilliant to do," Dawson said. "Someone who is that good, been that successful and a legend of the game, you can only pick their brains. You might pick up something that might give you a little edge when you are out there and that can only be a positive.

"I am an allrounder but batting is my strongest suit," he added. "I can do a good job with the ball. Having two strings to your bow is always helpful."

Dawson admitted he had to battle nerves at Lord's and was disappointed with his first-innings performance with the ball where although he claimed two wickets he conceded more than four an over. However, despite missing a big full toss from Kagiso Rabada to complete his pair on the fourth morning, making it three Test ducks in a row, he felt far more assured when he was brought on in the second innings and had the joy of straightening one on Amla to trap him lbw.

"I usually deal with nerves pretty well, but this time I was just too nervous and I have got to handle that better next time and I think I will be better for it," he said. "It is just part of sport and you have just got to try and deal with it and I did in the second innings. I was more relaxed second innings because I was out there again and enjoying every minute of it."

Dawson has been well-regarded by the England management since taking three wickets on his T20I debut against Sri Lanka at the Ageas Bowl last season. Bayliss has previously said "he has something about him" and Dawson prides himself on being a "smart" cricketer.

"People probably watch me and think 'you know he is not the best cricketer' but I have got to use my cricket brain. That has always helped me for Hampshire. That is another thing I pride myself on, being smart and clever. I think I am always trying to get into a battle and enjoy it. It is nice when that happens. Test cricket is suited to that. It is hard. I have only played two Test matches and it is extremely hard but it is so rewarding when you get a win like we did."

The indications after the victory at Lord's were that England would retain the same XI at Trent Bridge with Bayliss' view that a fifth quick bowler in the side would be overkill regardless of how green the surface was. Toby Roland-Jones, the uncapped Middlesex seamer, is the 12th member of the unchanged squad.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on July 12, 2017, 12:53 GMT

    Dawson's value will have changed if Mo can bowl like that consistently. A left-arm spinner who can keep an end tight is much more valuable if the guy at the other end can pick up wickets. The last time England had a combination like that was when Swann and Monty bowled in India in 2012 and the result of that series is legendary. England has a few young spinners coming up but they are all years away from test cricket. Spinners don't reach their peak until they are closing in on 30- Mo is 29, Swann was 28 when he came into the side. There aren't many Warnes about. These two might be the best bet for now. I feel for Rashid, but he's better with short format fields than test fields.

  • Devinderpal Singh on July 12, 2017, 11:51 GMT

    Dawson's selection is one of the things I despise about English cricket. He is mediocre with both bat and ball, with county cricket being proof of this, and yet, as the coach loves him for being ultra-compliant, he has and will continue to receive undeserved opportunities. If he and Rashid performed in opposite ways in the Asia Tests, you can guarantee Bayliss would not be using throwaway lines like "he has something"; he'd be quoting the wickets tally and downplaying the bad deliveries. As it happened, while no English bowler came out well, Rashid came out better than most, yet he has been jettisoned. How perverse, just like when Carberry was the best out of a bad bunch in the 2013/14 Ashes series, yet he gets dropped afterwards. Dawson is getting rewarded, despite being "a jack of all trades, a master of none". If Ballance was dropped too, I'd pick: 1. Cook, 2. Jennings (for now), 3. Root, 4. Patel, 5. Stokes, 6. Bairstow, 7. Ali, 8. Rashid, 9. Broad, 10. Wood, 11. Anderson.

  • sricha5777239 on July 12, 2017, 9:50 GMT

    please pick scott borthwick in the squad he is avery good batsman and a good leg spinner

  • subhasish on July 12, 2017, 9:34 GMT

    England should pick proper spinner in the 11 picking 3 all rounder in a 11 not a very good idea yes current England 11 very well balanced for English conditions but not for overseas conditions they struggle in sub continent conditions because they don't have any quality spinners

  • mj39168129558 on July 12, 2017, 9:16 GMT

    Hopefully he'll advise him to change careers.

  • rob on July 12, 2017, 7:53 GMT

    @ Nutcutlet: Not that I'm there to see anything first hand but I get the feeling the Saffers have just about had enough. For the moment at least. Rabada missing the next game isn't going to help their state of mind either. Still, they've been playing some very good cricket in amongst the low spots, so who knows. They could help themselves enormously by holding a few more catches. I guess that's true of everyone but they did grass a few more than normal in the 1st test. . .. With the ashes, yeah, that composition clash is something to look forward to. I happen to like Mo and Stokes as cricketers, they're both dynamic sorts, and recent results seem to bear out their effectiveness. Whether your side can afford another one in Dawson might be the big question at this stage because I can't see you going in without Sto-Mo. Anyway, that's all down the track. We've both got fish to fry between now and then. Good luck and cheers. (dunger)

  • chatfo2917686 on July 12, 2017, 7:36 GMT

    Dawson always has had a strong drive to make himself a better player - something some more naturally gifted players lack. At one time he had become an occasional bowler like Joe Root. Having 30 taken off him by Ben Stokes might have persuaded him to become more part-time, but the reverse - he dedicated himself to becoming a better bowler.

    He works well with another spinner. As a more defensive bowler he allows his partner to concentrate on attack. This is how he and Crane operate for Hampshire, and to my mind Crane is less effective in Dawson's absence.

    There are young spinners coming through. When they are ready, which is not quite yet, one of them will take Dawson's place. In the meantime, don't underestimate him.

  • Richard on July 12, 2017, 7:31 GMT

    Rashid's tests have been on unresponsive wickets and yet he has bowled well. It is sad that he missed out on a wicket on which he would have bowled well.

  • ian on July 12, 2017, 5:27 GMT

    Dunger.bob: Interesting observation. It's like England going with each-way bets and Australia taking the win-only option. It says to me that England doesn't trust their specialists when it comes to the middle order. If X doesn't do it with the bat, then he could come in with a wicket or two. This is the thinking round Dawson. Stokes is a genuine all-rounder, although good batsmen will take advantage of his lack of line/length discipline. Woakes is actually crucial to England's success: I can see him making runs but wickets in Australia may be harder to come by; he's an English-type bowler and needs to get movement off the pitch. I'd prefer England to find an out-and-out fast man to succeed in Aus. and I can't see Jimmy being effective on tour; he is effectively a quickish medium-pacer nowadays - still good for home conditions though. Overall, the contrast in philosophies is enticing. These home Tests we have now will not prove much; the Saffers seem poor!

  • Jamie347391 on July 12, 2017, 3:21 GMT

    Please bring in leach if moeen and Dawson can do that to sa on a day 4 pitch what will moeen and leach do on a day 5 pitch probably bowl out any team for 40

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