Jack Shutt is a cricketer who has grown up in the era of Twenty20 and more than that, had his initial taste of first-team success in that format last summer. But the fledgling off-spinner is steadfast in his belief that Test Match cricket remains the pinnacle of his ambitions.
Also, he is adamant that five-day Tests should provide the bedrock for the game’s future.
“I personally can’t see any reason for changing that format to four-day Tests,” said the 22-year-old from Barnsley.
“I think everyone is happy with how it is now.
“It’s definitely still the pinnacle in my eyes.
“That’s where you need to have the best skills and what you’ve been striving towards from being a little kid.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love white ball cricket. But everything that goes with playing for England in Test cricket makes that the one to strive for – walking out to Jerusalem, things like that.”
Shutt has been enthralled by England’s ongoing series in South Africa, which sees things tied at 1-1 with two games remaining. The third Test starts at Port Elizabeth on Thursday (8am UK).
He continued: “I watched a lot of the last Test, and it was a brilliant advert for five-day Test cricket. It was a great watch for everyone, including the neutral, and a special win for England.
“It will be a blow to lose Jimmy Anderson, but I’m very hopeful for the next couple of Tests. We’ve got a great chance of winning the series.”
This series is featuring two spinners Shutt looks up to and is using as examples of how to progress his own game – England’s Dom Bess and South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj. Both were obviously team-mates of his at Emerald Headingley at stages throughout 2019.
“In the short time Kesh was over here last season, I found him really great to chat to. He’s very knowledgeable about the game – he knows what he’s doing and what his plans are,” said Shutt, who is looking to replicate the pair’s contributions with the bat as well as the ball.
“There’s been a few things I’ve been working on this winter.
“My consistency with the red ball is an area I looked at – trying to hit consistent areas and a couple of technical things with my action. Another one has also been my batting. If you’re going to get in the red ball team, you need to bat at eight or nine.
“It’s massive for the balance of the team. When a coach is picking a team, your spinner needs to be able to bat. It’s ideal for everyone to bat, but it’s becoming more and more common that it’s a must for spinners.
“Bessy got the nod over in South Africa because everyone knows he can bat as well as being a very good spinner.
“Kesh is the same. Some of the performances he put in with the bat when he was over here playing for Yorkshire were exceptional.
“They are both guys I look up to in terms of their games.”
Shutt played seven times in last season’s Vitality Blast, taking 10 wickets. He claimed two on debut in the Roses clash at Headingley and then a fabulous 5-11 in a come-from-behind victory over Durham at the Riverside.
“They were my two highlights of the season,” he reflected. “To get a five-for for the firsts was quite surreal.
“It went pretty well, and I’m just looking to build on it now.
“I know putting in good performances for the second team, initially, is going to be key. That’s what I’ve got my eyes on at the start of the season. I want to play as much first-team cricket as I possibly can, but I know we have a lot of competition for places and it’s going to be tough.”
Shutt’s preparations for 2020 will take a significant step up in intensity in three weeks’ time when, alongside fellow spinner James Logan, he will travel to Mumbai in India for some outdoor training.
“We’re going for a month on February 2, and I’m really looking forward to it,” he added. “You hear a lot about the spinning pitches out there, so hopefully I can learn a few things.
“It’s come from a combination of Peter Such, who was the England spin bowling coach, and Yorkshire. We were asked would we be interested, and it sounds like a great opportunity.”