Eng­land’s spin­ner is­sues mount­ing ahead of In­dia test

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Eng­land demon­strated in the drawn test series in Bangladesh that its bats­men strug­gle against spin in the sub­con­ti­nent and its bowl­ing depart­ment lacks a top-class slow bowler.

That’s a ma­jor worry for the English con­sid­er­ing their next as­sign­ment: A five-test series against top-ranked In­dia - in In­dia. Eng­land slumped from 100-0 to 164 all out in just 22.5 overs af­ter tea to lose the sec­ond test in em­bar­rass­ing fash­ion in Dhaka on Sun­day. All 10 wick­ets fell to spin­ners as Bangladesh beat Eng­land in a test match for the first time.

The way off­spin­ner Me­hedi Hasan and lef­t­arm spin­ner Shakib Al Hasan ripped through Eng­land’s frag­ile bat­ting lineup isn’t a good omen be­fore a trip to In­dia, which boasts the top-ranked test bowler in off­spin­ner Ravichan­dran Ash­win and an­other top spin­ner in Ravin­dra Jadeja.

Some Bri­tish book­mak­ers are of­fer­ing odds of 7-2 on an In­dian white­wash when the series starts on Nov. 9 in Rajkot.

“It’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult, that’s for sure,” Eng­land coach Trevor Bayliss said. “We’re go­ing to have to play some very good cricket but we’ve got that in us.

“We’ve shown in pre­vi­ous series we’ve been able to come back af­ter losses and win. We’ve got to dig deep and be able to play a very good team play­ing in their home con­di­tions.” As much of a worry for Bayliss and cap­tain Alas­tair Cook are the spin­ner op­tions avail­able to Eng­land.

Za­far An­sari is fresh off his first test ap­pear­ance and it was a fairly chas­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the left-armer, who opened the bowl­ing in the first in­nings and didn’t re­turn af­ter a wick­et­less six-over spell.

The 39-year-old Gareth Batty was brought back into the in­ter­na­tional fold af­ter an 11year ab­sence, play­ing only one of the two tests in Bangladesh. Adil Rashid has been in and out of the Eng­land side and lacked con­sis­tency, although his con­fi­dence will be boosted by tak­ing four wick­ets in Bangladesh’s sec­ond in­nings in the sec­ond test.

Cer­tainly none of them are in the league of Ash­win or even Jadeja, and Eng­land is yet to find an ad­e­quate re­place­ment for Graeme Swann since his sud­den re­tire­ment dur­ing the 2013-14 Ashes series.

Among the changes be­ing con­sid­ered by Eng­land will be drop­ping Gary Bal­lance af­ter four sin­gle-fig­ure scores against Bangladesh and re­call­ing wick­et­keeper Jos But­tler, which would free Jonny Bairstow of the gloves and al­low him to move up the bat­ting or­der.

It would also re­duce the num­ber of left­handers fac­ing Ash­win. Bal­lance was re­tained de­spite av­er­ag­ing less than 30 in four tests against Pak­istan last sum­mer but didn’t jus­tify the se­lec­tors’ faith.

“Maybe we showed our in­ex­pe­ri­ence, in one sense, in sub­con­ti­nent con­di­tions in terms of bat­ting,” Cook said. “I was just look­ing around the dress­ing room at how much cricket peo­ple have played in the sub­con­ti­nent and it is not a huge amount.

“This is when we need to re­ally stay strong as a group,” Cook added. “Stuff like this hap­pens, es­pe­cially away from home. When you’re at home, you can get away from it for a cou­ple of days. But we haven’t got that lux­ury.”—AP

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