Scott George Borthwick
April 19, 1990, Sunderland, Co Durham
Left hand bat
Scott Borthwick is that rarest of commodities - an English legspinner, albeit a legspinner whose batting has increasingly become the dominant facet of his game. There is a romance to the art which is liable to leave England selectors swooning so appropriately enough there was an unreal element to Borthwick's Test debut against Australia in the final Test at Sydney as they lurched towards a 5-0 defeat in the 2013/14 Ashes series.
Borthwick's addition to England's squad came shortly before Christmas when Graeme Swann, troubled by an elbow complaint, abruptly announced his international requirement, looked around at a lack of obvious pretenders to his crown and pronounced that it was time for the likes of Borthwick to take their chance.
Borthwick had shown at Durham that he does not lack bottle, but It was quite an ask for a player who had envisaged a spell in Sydney grade cricket before an England Lions tour of Sri Lanka. He had finished as low as 15th in Durham's Championship averages in 2013, taking only 28 wickets alongside his 1,000 runs, his most impressive strides coming as a batman as Durham shrewdly gave him at opportunity at No. 3.
"I still think I'm a legspinner who bats," he nevertheless asserted. He was preferred to Monty Panesar, used protectively by his captain, Alastair Cook, and four wickets in the match, the best of them to dismiss Chris Rogers on 119, represented an uplifting match return of 4 for 82 in only 13 overs.
What followed was a development in his all-round game but a disappointment, nevertheless, for lovers of legspin. Borthwick achieved a rare thing for a Durham player where runs are an expensive commodity - making more than 1,000 in the Division One of the Championship in 2014 and again in a hugely consistent 2015 when only Somerset's James Hildreth made more runs in the top flight - but he took only 28 wickets at expensive cost, cause for England to lose interest.
England's interest flared again when he scored heavily in 2016, responded to a shift up the order to No. 3, but his name check by the national coach, Trevor Bayliss, coincided with a collapse in form. His leg spin was also serviceable at best, and although he put some of that down to the Chester-le-Street pitches, wherever he played he resembled a batsman who bowled. He was proud of his north-east heritage but the club was in financial disarray and after much uncertainty he followed his Durham team-mate, Mark Stoneman, in joining Surrey at the end of the 2016 season. His initial seasons at Surrey were less notable than he would have wished: he played only eight times in the Championship-winning 2018 season, and despite a better return the following season, he was limited to a diet of red-ball cricket.
A product of the local league system in Durham, Borthwick was thrown rudely into the limelight when, live on TV, he was carted for five successive sixes by Essex's James Foster to lose a Pro40 game at the back end of the 2009 season. But, surrounded by a battery of paceman at Durham, he enjoyed a good outing with the pink ball against MCC taking eight wickets in the game to set up his 2010 season. Good form in 2011 earned a call up for England's one-day international with Ireland. He gained further recognition in a T20 against West Indies in August and on tour to India in October 2011.
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