Graeme White hopes to have earned fresh respect from the slow left armers’ union after dismissing Ian Blackwell in each innings as he set a new career-best twice in Nottinghamshire’s County Championship victory over Durham at Trent Bridge.
The 24-year-old from Milton Keynes, who had only made a single Championship appearance in two seasons since moving north from Northampton before receiving a recent run in the team, took three for 17 in the first innings and four for 72 in the second.
“It’s nice to have made a contribution towards a winning team,” he said afterwards, confirming that the double over Blackwell had given him the most pleasure. Both dismissals came in the classic left-armer’s mode of caught and bowled, and owed plenty to the athletic fielding ability that has earned White more regular appearances in Nottinghamshire’s one-day team.
“The first one was a matter of life and death,” he reflected, having intercepted a brutal straight drive in his first over at Blackwell that would otherwise have made a horrible mess of his nose. The second dismissal came after a longer battle, with a ball that turned a little out of the rough. Blackwell did not quite middle his off drive and White dived to his right to catch the slight miscue in one hand.
He also dismissed the Durham captain Phil Mustard, another left-hander, in each innings. “That was very pleasing, because they’re very good players of spin,” said White. “I enjoyed getting them both out. I get on very well with Blacky, he’s a good chap, nice to talk to. He says it’s two-all so I look forward to the next duel we have. He’s been fantastic, and to have a chat with him after the game as an experienced spinner is one of the things you get to do in first-team cricket. You always look at the players you want to get out and definitely as another left arm spinner you’re happy to get them out.”
White has now played in four of the last five Championship matches, helped by Samit Patel’s appearances for the Lions and now England’s one-day team. “It’s nice to have a bit of a run, although I didn’t even bowl in a couple of the games – I played as a batsman,” he joked, having scored 54 not out and 32 from number nine in the win against Lancashire at Southport.
He concedes that Patel’s return could yet squeeze him out of the team again, but shows an impressive lack of resentment. “I hope to stay in the team, but you never know. It all depends on the wickets. If they don’t suit, or Samit’s back, I might be pushed back a bit.
“It’s not frustrating, he’s a quality player Samit, and that’s why he’s been selected for England. It’s a good challenge for me really. Maybe I can bowl better than him, or score some runs and put him under a bit of pressure. I see it more that way round than as a barrier. When you come and play for a team like Notts you’re going to have a lot of good players in the side so to be featuring now and playing and doing well in a winning team has been fantastic.
“I’m pleased with the way that I’ve bowled. I still think there’s areas I need to improve on, but the more games I play the more experience I get.”
Andy Afford, the former Notts left armer who now works in publishing, watched with pleasure and pride from the press box as White underlined his potential, having helped him to change his grip during the winter to become a bigger turner of the ball. “This will be great for Graeme’s confidence, having a decent bowl, getting good players out and playing a significant part in a win,” said Afford.
It is food for thought that Monty Panesar and especially Gary Keedy, two left-arm spinners who are in the top four wicket-takers in Division One this summer, have served such a long apprenticeship before mastering their craft – Panesar going through some tough times in international cricket and Keedy now in his 17th season with Lancashire. Mick Newell has always stressed that Notts signed White as a long-term project, and is delighted that he is already starting to deliver.