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Somerset open to idea of England star Bashir leaving on loan

Somerset will consider letting emerging England star Shoaib Bashir leave the club on loan this summer, with head coach Jason Kerr admitting he’s weighing up how to best manage the next step of the spinner’s career.

The 20-year-old was fast-tracked into England’s Test squad in India after just six first-class matches and has quickly grown into his new surroundings, taking 12 wickets at an average of 32.83 in two mature outings for his country.

Bashir has been identified as a player with significant long-term potential by the ECB, but with his immediate path to regular first-team cricket is unclear, with Jack Leach – currently recovering from knee surgery – serving as Somerset and England’s first-choice spinner.

England bowler Jack Leach
Image: England and Somerset left-arm spinner Jack Leach is currently sidelined after undergoing knee surgery

England head coach Brendon McCullum said last week it would be “slightly mad” if Bashir and Lancashire’s Tom Hartley, who has Australia’s Nathan Lyon in his way as an overseas player at Old Trafford for 2024, were kept on the sidelines in county cricket this season.

Somerset head coach Kerr appreciates the dilemma. “It’s certainly not easy but I always try and put myself in the player’s shoes and what they want is to play cricket,” he told Press Association.

“Bash will be on cloud nine right now and riding that. He would have seen the world very differently at the start of the winter than he does now that he’s had international opportunities and done very well. So it’s important to have really honest, transparent conversations.

“We start the season on April 5 and I’d be surprised if too many teams are playing two specialist spinners. So I understand there will be some questions about it.

“There’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge, but what I’m not going to do is stand in the way of anyone’s opportunity.

“We will always do what is best for the player and we’ve done it time and time again. We’ve allowed people to go on loan and get some cricket because it can benefit them and us in the future, and we’ve said no to players because they’re next in line and we might need them.

“We will look at each case as it arises but, historically, we’ve been open to it.”

Shoaib Bashir (Getty Images)
Image: Shoaib Bashir has taken 12 wickets at an average of 32.83 in his first two Tests for England out in India

Bashir’s rapid rise effectively reprises the situation Somerset experienced when fellow off-spinner Dom Bess emerged. He and Leach began by working in tandem on turning pitches but, when Bess was elevated to the Test side, the pair eventually found themselves competing for one spot.

Leach held that berth, with Bess moving on to Yorkshire, and Kerr made it clear he retains full faith in Leach, who has given more than a decade of good service to Somerset.

“It’s important we see both of the guys bowling first but we also look at what Leachy has done for club and country over the years,” he said.

“We always want competition for places and we want it to be healthy. Nobody has the right to start but Jack has got a lot of experience and, from my side, that counts for a lot.

“Bash has so much time to grow and to become a world-class spinner who can bowl on all surfaces and know when to defend and attack. He’ll be coming back from India to very different conditions in the UK.

“We’re an incredibly ambitious club and we want to inspire players to represent England. We want to help them fulfil those aspirations and that doesn’t change whether it’s Shoaib or Jack.”

Mason Crane, Hampshire (PA Images)
Image: Hampshire leg-spinner Mason Crane joins Glamorgan on a season-long load deal

One other England-capped spinner did find himself on the move on Friday, with Hampshire leg-spinner Mason Crane joining Glamorgan on a season-long loan.

The 27-year-old won a solitary Test cap for England at Sydney in the 2017/18 Ashes and also had two international T20 appearances for his country, but he has struggled to find a consistent role at Hampshire in recent years.

Last term proved a major frustration and, with the experienced left-arm spinner Liam Dawson excelling, Crane managed only two first-class appearances, taking one wicket.

Follow text commentary from day one of the fifth Test between India and England live on and the Sky Sports App from 3.30am on Thursday March 7 (4am first ball).

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