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    Lancashire coach Dale Benkenstein says selection headache is a nice one
Lancashire coach Dale Benkenstein says selection headache is a nice one
Tom Hartley is England's top wicker taker, by Getty Images

Lancashire coach Dale Benkenstein says selection headache is a nice one

Lancashire coach Dale Benkenstein says it will be tough to play two spinners early in the season. He is waiting for the "nice headache" of playing new England bowler Tom Hartley.

After the final Test with India ends in Dharamsala on 11 March, Hartley will return to prepare for the start of the County Championship season on 5 April.

However, the 24-year-old will face competition from Australia’s spinner Nathan Lyon.

Benkenstein said that there would be a couple of challenges in terms of Hartley's inclusion

It will be difficult to play two spinners in April and May, both here in Manchester and around the country.

Benkenstein noted:

"But, who knows, it might be one of those strange summers when the sun comes out. Sometimes April and May can be warm and we might have the option of playing that second spinner."

England coach Brendon McCullum is concerned that slow left-armer Hartley and 20-year-old Somerset off-spinner Shoaib Bashir may not be their counties' first-choice spinners despite their success in India.

But McCullum has some time on his hands, with England not scheduled to play Test cricket for another four months until the West Indies arrive at Lord's for the first Test on 10 July.

Benkenstein admits to having a soft spot for spinners:

“But the fact is that we do have the option of playing two quality spinners and that's a nice headache to have.”

Hartley took 19 wickets at an average of 44.84 in 10 County Championship matches for Lancashire in 2023.

His batting was also impressive, scoring 371 runs at an average of 37, with two fifties.

Although 36-year-old Lyon is expected to be the sole spinner in the home attack when Lancashire hosts county champions Surrey in their opening game, Benkenstein emphasizes that the Red Rose is gaining more than just a bowler and wicket-taker. Lyon will also serve as a spinning mentor. Lyon is eighth on the all-time list of Test wicket-takers with 517 wickets.

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