WORCESTERSHIRE assistant coach Matt Mason said Ross Whiteley has been encouraged by England to develop his off-spin – and bolster his chances of becoming part of their T20 squad.
Whiteley already has a growing reputation for his fearsome hitting in NatWest T20 Blast cricket and he smashed 29 sixes for Worcestershire Rapids last summer – the joint highest tally in the competition.
But England have also recognised his potential as an off-spinner and he has been working on that facet of his game as part of a three week England Development Programme in the UAE ahead of England Lions’ five-match T20 series with Pakistan.
“I know a lot of people have said the spot Ross should target is Sam Billings’, because of the fact Ross is a ‘gun fielder’ but Sam has obviously done very well in these last couple of games with keeping,” Mason said.
“There are all sorts of spots that Ross could take. He has changed his approach. He is now looking to develop his off spin.
“He has played around with off spin in the past in the nets. England have suggested this might be a good thing for him to try and give him another string to his bow.
“It makes him (Whiteley) very selectable because his big hitting is known and if you can get him into that middle order as another spin option, a bit like a Michael Yardy-type, that’s great. He is working hard on that as well.
“He has done it a bit in the nets here. We’ve dabbled with it.
“Certainly the England coaches have seen there is something there and they see that as a great way for him to get into the side.
“If you think of people like David Willey and Reece Topley, they’ve already got left-arm seamers covered.
“I think they are keen to get Ross in there because his big hitting is as good as anyone you would see and, like I said, he is a ‘gun fielder’ so he has got a third string to his bow and that makes him very selectable.”
Mason, in charge of the squad at New Road during Steve Rhodes’ absence while on England Lions’ coaching duty, says Whiteley’s development in the spin department would also be beneficial to Worcestershire as well.
“If we’ve got a left-arm orthodox that we can throw in the mix as well as someone who can also bowl a bit of seam and field and bat like he does, what a fantastic player to have. Ross is really keen to develop that part of his game,” he added.