Published on: Jan 31, 2024
England coach Brendon McCullum has stated that the visitors would not hesitate in playing four spinners if they conditions for the second Test against India in Visakhapatnam are suitable for the same. The visitors beat India by 28 runs in the first Test in Hyderabad, making a stellar comeback after being on the back foot for the first half of the Test match.
Debutant left-arm spinner Tom Hartley was hammered for 131 runs in 25 overs in the first innings although he did claim a couple of wickets. Hartley, however, bowled England to victory with sensational figures of 7/62 in the second innings, on the same surface where India’s spinners failed to make the desired impact.
Speaking to SEN Radio, the former New Zealand captain proclaimed that England would not be wary of going in with an all-spin attack for the next Test against India. If that happens, uncapped spinner Shoaib Bashir, who was unavailable for the Hyderabad Test due to visa delay, could be handed his Test debut. At the same time, though, senior left-arm spinner Jack Leach is nursing a knee injury.
“If the wickets continue to spin as much as what we saw in the first Test as the series goes on, look, we won’t be afraid to play all spinners or a balance of what we’ve got. Bash (Bashir), he was obviously with us during our camp in Abu Dhabi, and he really impressed with his skill set. He fitted in seamlessly within the group, and he’s a guy who’s got an immense amount of enthusiasm, albeit at a young age and pretty limited in his first-class experience,” McCullum commented.
“When he arrived, boys gave him a huge cheer, and he got to witness something pretty special with the fellas bowling us to a Test win. He comes into calculations for the next Test match,” he added.
Apart from Hartley and Bashir, England also have the option to use Joe Root and Rehan Ahmed in the spin department in the event of Leach not recovering in time.
Meanwhile, McCullum hailed Ben Stokes for the manner in which he dealt with an inexperienced spin attack, which outplayed India in a rather stunning fashion. Speaking about Hartley and Stokes, he commented, “He’s [Hartley] only played a handful of first-class games and was probably a bit of a punt, selection-wise. But, we saw something in him that we thought would work over there, and he’s a tough character. The way that the skipper handled him was quite remarkable, and he obviously brought us to a Test win. I thought that was a real sign of leadership.
“It was a clear message to not just Tom, but those that are around the squad, that when we talk about freedom, taking the game on and trying to come in and make a difference, you’re not going to be cast aside or taken off the crease from the first sign of danger,” he added.
Speaking of India, they will miss the services of Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul for the second Test. Virat Kohli had already pulled out of the first two Tests citing personal reasons.
–By A Cricket Correspondent