WINTER WATCH: Matthew Parkinson
WINTER WATCH: Matthew Parkinson
It is fair to say Matt Parkinson is loving life as an Englishman abroad, a locum Sydneysider you might say.
Lancashire's highly-rated leg-spinner is on an ECB placement in New South Wales, one which largely sees him play grade cricket at the weekend and train extensively in the week.
He has been placed with the Gordon club in Sydney, where England Test debutant Mason Crane starred last winter and ended up playing first-class cricket for New South Wales.
Parkinson admits that has led to a few comments from opposition players regarding the pressure of matching Crane, but it certainly hasn't bothered the pugnacious Boltonian.
The 21-year-old said: "It probably wasn't ideal to come out here for the first time and go to the club where Mason played at and did so well, but I decided 'You know what, I'm just going to be myself and not think about that - stick my chest out and make my own mark'.
"If the accolades come along, great. If they don't, at least I've done my best to try and win games for Gordon.
"I've had a lot of comments about that during games, though!
"I've really enjoyed it out here."
"Their grade comp, I'd put it on a par with Minor Counties cricket - maybe even a bit above that," said the former Staffordshire player.
"Over here, the state lads play a lot more than we would our league cricket back home."
Parkinson, who has been under the guidance of a former Australian leg-spinner who is working with the ECB, has taken 34 wickets from 14 matches across all forms for Gordon.
"The pitches have been really flat," he continued.
"I've been training with Stuart MacGill twice a week and have done some net bowling with the New South Wales Blues squad and the Sydney Thunder, where Jos (Buttler) is playing.
"I was also net bowling for England in the two days prior to the Sydney Test.
"Fingers crossed I can take the form I've shown out here into the season for Lancashire.
"You don't actually play that much cricket.
"I've only played three first grade red ball games, then two or three one-day games and about four T20s. I've also been involved in a couple of Under 21 days, where you play a couple of T20s.
"The reason I'm happy with my game at the minute is more through the work I'm doing off the field with Stuart."hat's giving me the confidence to think I can go back home and hopefully play in all three formats.
"There's about eight lads each year who are placed by the ECB. Some of the batsmen go to Perth and the spinners go to Sydney. I'm with Delray Rawlins and Matt Critchley.
"We train twice a week in the Indoor nets at the SCG with Stuart and are attached to different grade clubs.
"Whenever a chance comes to net bowl at the state team or the Big Bash team, we try and latch onto it.
"It's more difficult than you'd think to sort that out given the logistics of Sydney are a lot tougher than Bolton or Manchester.
"I've done a couple of sessions with the Thunder and Jos even though I'm based out in the east of the city in a place called St Ives and they're based out in the west."
Parkinson is not the only Lancashire player playing grade cricket in Sydney, with Arron Lilley at Blacktown and Toby Lester with North Sydney.
"I haven't actually come across them yet," he said. "The fixtures haven't allowed us to play against each other.
"I've played against Olly Pope from Surrey. He's at Campbelltown.
"There are so many English lads here, second-team lads who are playing second grade at some clubs. It's a bit freaky who you see out here.
"Brett Lee has been playing in the other conference for Mosman and Shane Watson for Sutherland.
"When we played against Manly, they had four Thunder players playing. These lads see it as a stepping stone into first-class.
"Coaches do watch grade cricket.
"Part of the reason I went to the Thunder was because their assistant coach is Manly's coach and I performed well against them. The invite to net bowl came from that."
Parkinson net bowled for the England Lions in Brisbane in November and has been selected for the one-day leg of their tour to the West Indies in early March.
"You don't know how the season is going to go, but hopefully I can keep progressing whilst I'm out here and then put in some good displays for the Lions in Antigua," he added.
"Then I'll try and take that form into the season.
"I'm not going back with any concrete plans that I'm going to play, but I am hoping to be able put in some performances that lead to selection in all three forms for Lancashire."
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