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Shoaib Bashir: Jack Leach ruled out till May to hand Somerset spinner chance to press claims for England spot

Australia's Nathan Lyon tells Sky Sports, "I'm not here to take Tom's spot", amid concerns that he might take valuable playing time away from left-arm spinner Tom Hartley, who could also be in contention to start England's first Test of the summer against the West Indies on July 10

Somerset and England team-mates Jack Leach (L) and Shoaib Bashir (R)
Image: Team-mates at Somerset, Jack Leach (L) handed Shoaib Bashir (R) his debut Test cap during England's tour of India

Jack Leach is set to be out of action until early May, giving Somerset team-mate Shoaib Bashir the chance to establish himself as England's No 1 spinner.

Leach sustained a knee injury during England's first Test victory over India in February which ruled him out of the rest of the series in which 20-year-old Bashir made his debut.

"Somerset are likely to be without Jack Leach until early May as he continues his rehabilitation back to full fitness," the county confirmed on Thursday.

Bashir has been named in Somerset's squad for their season-opening County Championship game away at Kent on Friday, with Leach's spell on the sidelines set to rule him out for at least their first four red-ball fixtures.

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Ian Ward though England's Shoaib Bashir showed great character in adapting to conditions and challenging India's batsmen as he took four wickets in Ranchi

Bashir played in three of the last four Tests of the tour and the off-spinner impressed with 17 wickets at an average of 33.35, despite England falling to a 4-1 series defeat.

Leach's absence gives Bashir the chance to stake a claim for not only a regular starting spot for Somerset but also for England, with their first Test of the summer against the West Indies at Lord's scheduled for July 10.

Lyon: I'm not here to take Hartley's spot

Tom Hartley too impressed during England's tour of India, the 24-year-old left-arm spinner finishing as their leading wicket-taker after taking 22 at an average of 36.13 in what was also his debut series.

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Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton assess Tom Hartley's match-winning performance in the first Test against India and what impact captain Ben Stokes had on the debutant

There is concern though that his opportunities to impress the England selectors ahead of that first Test of the summer will be more limited given the arrival of Australia's Nathan Lyon as a team-mate at Lancashire.

Lyon, however, says he's here to work in tandem with Hartley and will be happy to lend advice from his 129 Tests and 530 wickets worth of experience.

"I'm not here to take Tom's spot," Lyon told Sky Sports. "I'm here to bowl with Tom and win games of cricket.

"He's an exciting young prospect for England cricket, which is great to see, and if I can help him out along the way, I've got absolutely no dramas with that.

"There's no real secrets in what I do. I'm happy to help out."

Lyon added that he was impressed with what he saw from both Hartley and Bashir during the series in India, suggesting the future is bright for England in the spin department.

"To see those guys go out there and compete in the hardest place to play Test cricket was pretty amazing," he added. "Hats off to them and I'm excited to see how their careers unfold."

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