Cook: Ansari can be my right-hand man

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Stocks in Dhaka

ZAFAR Ansari hopes to stake a claim for a place in Eng­land’s team for In­dia af­ter be­ing handed his Test de­but in Bangladesh to­day.

The Sur­rey left-arm spin­ner was set to take his place in Eng­land’s XI when the sec­ond Test started in Dhaka this morn­ing.

Cap­tain Alastair Cook, speak­ing on the eve of the series fi­nale, re­vealed Ansari will re­place his Sur­rey col­league Gareth Batty and sug­gested it was an op­por­tu­nity for him to put him­self in con­tention for the five-Test series in In­dia that fol­lows this tour.

The 24-year-old, who sat out Eng­land’s 22-run win in the first Test in Chit­tagong, is keen to ac­cept the chal­lenge, say­ing: “It’s an op­por­tu­nity to stake a claim. I think it is clearly a way of see­ing how I go in Test cricket.

“It’s a one-off in some ways and I just want to go out there and if I bowl well then I give my­self a chance in In­dia with more righthanders and po­ten­tial spin­ning wick­ets out there.”

In­dia, the world’s No.1 team, have a top-or­der packed with right-han­ders and Cook be­lieves Ansari could prove key if he set­tles quickly into Test cricket.

“Clearly he has the abil­ity to take the ball away from the right-han­ders,” said Cook. “It will be re­ally in­ter­est­ing to see how he goes. You see the suc­cess Ravin­dra Jadeja (the In­dia left-arm spin­ner) has bowl­ing wicket-to-wicket. So yes I think Zafar could chal­lenge for that series.” Ansari would have made his Test de­but against Pak­istan in the UAE last win­ter had it not been for a freak thumb in­jury he sus­tained just hours af­ter his call-up and which took him seven months to re­cover from. A year later, he has come full cir­cle. “Get­ting into the squad was the mo­ment I thought I’d over­come last win­ter and ev­ery­thing I went through,” he said. “To have got back to this point quite quickly feels like an achieve­ment.” Ansari’s maiden first-class wicket was Cook, who fell to the left-armer when play­ing for Es­sex against Cam­bridge Univer­sity in 2011. (A year be­fore TCP’s first is­sue, which fea­tured Ansari as our ‘Young Gun’, right. ) Ansari, who grad­u­ated with a dou­ble first and is await­ing the re­sults from a Masters de­gree on the US Civil Rights move­ment, said: “My main mem­ory is I bowled 30odd overs with­out tak­ing a wicket, and he tried to re­verse sweep me and dragged on. “It wasn’t a mag­i­cal mo­ment. I don’t think my se­lec­tion owes much to that! I don’t think he knew who I was – just some ropey univer­sity spin bowler!”

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Catch that! Eng­land skip­per Alastair Cook in train­ing this week and be­low, new cap Zafar Ansari. Far right: Our ‘Young Gun’ fea­ture on Ansari from the very first is­sue of TCP in 2012

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