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February 7, 2014
England's attempts to find Graeme Swann's successor have thus far produced no outstanding candidate. Several spinners of varying medium have been given opportunities but the selectors plumped for a new face in the World Twenty20 squad.
Lancashire's slow left-armer Stephen Parry was on the radar of few observers and the inclusion of a largely unknown spinner - he doesn't feature in first-class cricket - raised several eyebrows. But with a domestic T20 record of 63 wickets at 22.40 he has a prima facie case for a shot at international cricket.
"I got the phone call off James Whitaker and it's been a long 24 hours because I just wanted to scream it out, but I managed to hold myself in," Parry said of the moment he discovered he would be going to the Caribbean and then Bangladesh.
"I told close family and my wife. It's been a very nice time because it's something you're always trying to work towards. Not everyone's lucky enough to put that shirt on but it looks like I've got a great chance of doing that now, a fantastic chance. I'm very proud at the moment. I feel like I'm eight foot, not six foot."
Simon Kerrigan, Scott Borthwick and Ollie Rayner are currently in Sri Lanka with the Lions squad, while James Tredwell and Danny Briggs played during the one-day leg of England's Australia tour. None has yet convinced as England's next first-choice spinner.
Tredwell has evidence for and against his selection but currently appears the leading slow bowler. Moeen Ali, a batsman who bowls conventional offspin, is also in England's World T20 squad but Parry's different style and the potential need for two spinners in Bangladesh gives him a live chance of playing a significant part in the tournament.
"There is definitely a carrot dangled out there for spinners in England at the moment," Parry said before the squad was announced. "It was sad to see Graeme Swann leave the game and he has left big shoes to fill, but obviously that is a great opportunity for other spinners to force their way into the England team."
Such a prospect seemed some way off to Parry when he was sitting out a large chunk of last season with a broken arm, however, courtesy of his county coach, Peter Moores.
"It was just me and Moorsey halfway through the Northants game," Parry said. "I was 12th man and we just went for a hit with the dog-chucker and he got one wrong and it was flat. It hit me clean in the forearm and snapped it, a straight snap."
Parry recovered and, to make up for lost cricket, decided to travel to Perth for a second season with Midland-Guildford, having initially settled for a winter at home.
"I was thinking of not coming out to Perth this year, but as I missed the rest of the season I thought it was really important to just get out and play some cricket and get back into it. I've just enjoyed playing cricket and seeing how my arm goes, but it's reacted really well and now I'm fully fit and everything's brilliant. I'm really, really glad I came out now."
Having not even realised he was in the 30-man squad - he was told by his dad after five missed calls, then had to double check as his name was misspelled in the ECB press release - Parry now has an unexpected opportunity to play in a global tournament, a world away from the 2nd XI matches he was playing in back in September.
"Over there you know you could get a little bit of help and I think my style of bowling should suit it," he said, of the prospect of bowling on slow, dry pitches in Bangladesh. "I had success when I was over there with the Performance Programme so I'm quietly confident that I'll bowl really well."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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