England hopeful Scott Borthwick targets more big centuries
With Graeme Swann joining the clamour this week for Scott Borthwick to add to his one Test cap, the Durham all-rounder acknowledged that any recall would be mainly as a batsman.
When he played in the final Test of the 2013-14 winter tour of Australia it was as Swann’s replacement.
But his leg-spin has since taken a back seat to his prolific run-scoring.
“I was picked for my one Test as a bowler,” said the 26-year all-rounder from Sunderland.
“But we have always had four good seamers who have dominated at Durham and I’ve become more of a batsman since moving up to No 3.
“Last year I didn’t quite get the big scores. I got out three times in the 90s, but now when I get there I’m determined to go on.
“It’s the big hundreds which get you noticed.
“I know my name keeps popping up, but I try not to think too much about it.
“I just want to keep getting better each year and keep on putting in good performances for Durham with bat and ball.”
He did exactly that at Trent Bridge this week, scoring 188 not out and equalling his best match haul of eight wickets.
Two weeks after joining an elite group of four Durham players, he did it again.
Against Lancashire he became the fourth to score two hundreds in one match; against Nottinghamshire he was the fourth to pair a five-for with a century.
He followed Phil Bainbridge (Headingley, 1993), Ben Stokes (Rose Bowl, 2011) and Paul Collingwood (Taunton, 2015).
Borthwick’s leg spin might have taken a back seat in recent seasons, but he has still become the top first-class wicket-taker among Durham spinners.
They have always struggled to produce spinners on seam-friendly Riverside pitches and ex-Somerset man Ian Blackwell topped the charts with 149 wickets until Borthwick passed him.
He began the season just one behind, but after going wicketless in the first four games he picked up one in each innings against Lancashire prior to his eight at Trent Bridge.
“I’m getting more opportunities to bowl on the drier pitches this season,” he said.
“I bowled 13 overs in the first innings against Lancashire, which I’ve never done at Riverside before, so it all helps.
“A few wickets won’t do any harm.
“But I’m sure if I do get picked for England again it will be as a batter.”
Durham will consider pushing Collingwood and Borthwick further up the order than their T20 slots at eight and nine when they start their 50-over campaign at Leicester on Sunday.
First they will try to build on two successive NatWest T20 Blast wins at Edgbaston this evening and tomorrow at Grace Road.