DateLine: 12th December 2005
Ian Salisbury provides a classic example of the gap between First-class and Test level. A consistent and sometimes formidable wicket taker at county level, his 8 year, 15 Test career yielded only 20 wickets at just under 77 each. Although his Test appearances may have been increased by the fact that Shane Warne had shown how devastating leg spin could be, he inevitably suffered by comparison, despite a majority of his appearances coming on pitches offering at least turn or bounce. His first Test wicket saw Javed Miandad fall to a beautifully pitched and spun leg break, although sadly that proved a false dawn. Salisbury’s nadirs came at Nottingham in 1998, where he fell victim to a brutal and pre-meditated assault from Hansie Cronje, and in Pakistan in the winter of 2000 where he took 1-193 over the three Test series. However, to his credit he did average 42 with the bat in that historic series win. Salisbury's good and bad fortune may both be found in that he played his cricket in an era where English batsmen were simply poor players of wrist spin, and that much of his domestic cricket was played on a bouncy and spin friendly Oval. To have come up against better batsmen may have encouraged him to develop both more variety and a more attacking line (few of his deliveries ever actually pitched on leg). In an era of few English spinners (and even fewer of the wrist spinning creed) he was one of the best of a very small bunch, and as such much of the opprobrium thrown at him through his Test career was unfair, even if his returns showed that what he had to offer as a Test bowler was a long way short of what was required.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)