Durham captain Paul Collingwood is backing Sunderland’s Scott Borthwick for an England Test recall.
Borthwick, for now, is a one-Test wonder – an Ashes clash no less – in which he took four wickets for a little more than 20 runs apiece.
But the leg-spinner, 25, has been more of a run-getter than wicket-taker for Durham of late. He is hovering around a first-class average of 50 this year yet has taken just two four-day wickets.
Collingwood believes Borthwick should be recognised on merit for his batting – before backing him for a return to form with the ball.
“He’s had a taste of England, obviously with the Test match in Sydney at the Ashes, and I have to say since then as a batsman his game has gone to a new level,” said Collingwood, as he launched Royal London’s summer of cricket, which includes the first Royal London One Day International, starting on Tuesday against New Zealand.
“The downside of being able to bowl leg-spin is that everyone will always see you as a bowler. But he is a genuine batsman and should be looked at as someone who could do a job right from No.3 down to No.7 or No.8.
“When you’ve got that quality, the bowling will get dragged along with it. He hasn’t had a huge opportunity getting the number of overs in at the start of the season, but I’m sure when the pitches dry out he’ll get a lot more opportunity to bowl and show what he can do.
“He’s a guy with amazing talent. Leg spin is pretty much the hardest skill in cricket and he’s still got a lot of potential to do some special things with the ball.
“I would have thought he wouldn’t be too far away from that England set-up.”
Durham are likely to be without Wood and Stokes for the majority of their Royal London Cup defence, as England do battle with Australia in the Ashes following the conclusion of their ODI campaign against New Zealand.
But Collingwood – who captained England to World t20 success back in 2010 – insists there is plenty of talent waiting in the wings to impress.
“We’ll wait and see if we have (the strength of depth), the good thing about players being called up for international duty is that it does give youngsters the opportunity to come through, we’ve got a hell of a lot of talent in the North East and sometimes you don’t realise it,” added Collingwood, who also launched a brand new ECB grassroots cricket competition, the Royal London Gilbert Cup, which will see hundreds of Under 11s from across the country compete in an 8-a-side soft ball cricket competition throughout the season, culminating in a grand finale to be played at Lord’s during the interval of the One-Day Cup final in September.
“Everyone turns around and says it must be hard work when you lose players to England – it’s not at all, that’s our business and what we try to do, to create international cricketers.
“It’s great to see Ben and Mark do so well in the England team and hopefully there’ll be more to come.
“The confidence that we’ve gained from last year’s competition will be crucial. We had a great campaign last year and played a very strong side in the final, Warwickshire.
“We don’t have too much of a different team but hopefully the skill levels have gone up a little bit to start the competition well. We want to replicate what was a fantastic year.”
* Paul Collingwood was speaking at the launch of the Royal London Gilbert Cup, a new grassroots U11 cricket tournament. www.royallondoncricket.com