By Ali Martin | THE GUARDIAN | BRITAIN |
While England’s Test squad for Sri Lanka may suggest a paucity of spin options at present, an offie who can be filed under “one for the future” is currently with the Lions in Australia looking to reignite a career that stumbled a touch last year.
Amar Virdi may be only 21 but is already a title winner, having been an ever-present in the Surrey team that was unstoppable in 2018 and contributed 39 wickets to the cause. It is not just the patka and beard that made this young Sikh so eye-catching; this is a finger spinner who gives the ball a proper rip.
But the strains of that breakout campaign led to a stress issue in his lower back and while it did clear up over the winter, Virdi was then omitted for the first nine matches of last season because his overall fitness had fallen below an acceptable standard.
Alec Stewart, Surrey’s director of cricket, spoke of a player in need of some “tough love” and after a spell with Darren Veness, the club’s hulking great fitness coach, a more slimline Virdi returned in July with a bang, snaring 14 Nottinghamshire wickets in a spin-fest at Trent Bridge.
Though most eyes at the time were on the mind-bending World Cup final at Lord’s, and his season was more quiet thereafter, it was the type of performance that highlighted why Virdi has been talked about as a future international since he first started playing first-XI club cricket aged 13.
Now in the Lions set-up for the three-match tour that begins against a Cricket Australia XI in Hobart on Saturday – albeit sitting behind Dom Bess, who after an encouraging recall in South Africa bounces on to Sri Lanka – Virdi is determined to show the coaches how much he wants truly wants it.
“Last season was, well, different. I was pretty sad and upset at missing games after the year we had before but I think good comes from bad,” Virdi told the Guardian before his departure for Australia, spinning an apple in his hand by force of habit.
Read the full story, ‘Amar Virdi: ‘British Asians can make it, it’s knowing how the system works” (The Guardian, 11 Feb 2020), here.
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