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Liam Dawson sees a lot of promise in Rehan Ahmed but cautioned against expecting too much, too soon from the teenage leg-spinner.
England’s dismal World Cup seems set to usher in a changing of the guard for the ODI side and Ahmed may have more of a role to play, even if Adil Rashid remains the country’s premier white-ball spinner.
Ahmed has impressed in seven appearances in national colours across all formats since last December and joins Rashid in being named in the ODI and T20 squads for next month’s trip to face the West Indies.
The 19-year-old links up with England after a lean domestic summer but Dawson is a huge admirer of his fellow spin bowling all-rounder and is certain he will flourish if England persevere with him.
“Rehan’s very young so you’ve got to give him a bit of time – he’s nowhere near the finished article,” Dawson told the PA news agency.
“I played with him last winter and I think he’s a very good bowler. You’ve just got to be patient with him. Spin bowling isn’t easy in England, you don’t get conditions that suit very often.”
Dawson subscribes to the notion spinners get better as they grow older and he has the numbers to back it up after taking 49 wickets at 20 to go with 840 runs at 40 in this year’s County Championship.
His form for Hampshire – where he was an ever-present for the matches in which he was available – warrants an England recall with a five-match Test series against India to come, starting in January.
Dawson has long since stopped worrying about his fringe status for England in all formats but the 33-year-old believes he is a superior player than when he earned the last of three Test caps in July 2017.
“Without a doubt,” he said. “I was only 27 then. I certainly think I’m a better player now. I’ve played a lot more cricket and in a lot more pressure situations. I understand that side of the game more.
“In red-ball cricket my bowling has improved every single year. I’d say that’s a huge thing that has improved. It’s going to be very hard to beat what I’ve done this season.
“There’s not much more I can do than what I’ve done this year. I’ll keep trying to work hard, keep trying to improve but I’m very realistic that the season I’ve just had doesn’t come around too often.”
A difficult conundrum awaits Dawson if England do make overtures for him as he has already committed to a lucrative stint in South Africa’s SA20, which overlaps with a couple of Tests of the India tour.
The canny slow left-armer would be a valuable inclusion on the turning tracks of India but any England return would likely be brief and he does not have the safety net of a central contract to fall back on.
Dawson is a regular in the high-paying T20 franchise leagues and, with England’s blessing, he was among a group of players to miss a tour of Bangladesh to play in the Pakistan Super League earlier this year.
“Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s desperate to play for their country but it also gets to a point where financially, you have to take that into consideration,” he added.
“As a player, for someone in my situation who hasn’t got a central contract – I certainly didn’t expect one – I’m not getting younger now, you have to make money.
“There’s so many competitions now you can play in. It’s brilliant to be a player now and hopefully I can play for a few more years and try to continue to perform.”
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