The selection of Liam Dawson in England’s World T20 squad in 2016 carried a message of hope for all cricketers dutifully plying their trade on the county circuit. In Hampshire’s T20 campaign of 2015 Dawson played two games, scored three runs in one knock and did not take a wicket; he scored three in his solitary T20 innings. With his career faltering, he was loaned out to Essex for a month. Then, on his return to Hampshire, came a remarkable transformation.
Surrey’s Zafar Ansari, who England most favoured as the next spin-bowling allrounder in line, suffered a serious hand injury and, with options scarce, Dawson was summoned to the England Performance Programme. Tough-minded and versatile, he did enough to join England’s T20 World Cup squad in India, although he did not play; his England T20 debut came on his home ground at the Ageas Bowl against Sri Lanka in July 2016; an ODI debut against Pakistan also followed by the end of the summer; and the winter brought a Test debut in Chennai.
Dawson was initially overlooked as a spinning allrounder for England’s Test tours of Bangladesh and India in 2016, with Ansari preferred, but Ansari was hampered by back trouble in India and Dawson joined the squad in mid-series. A Test debut followed in Chennai, where he made a dogged, unbeaten 66 batting at No. 8.
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