Stokes talks up Hartley ahead of England Test debut against India

England skipper Ben Stokes spoke about the pitches, Tom Hartley, Mark Wood, James Anderson and more ahead of the Test series opener against India.

Published : Jan 24, 2024 17:13 IST , HYDERABAD - 2 MINS READ

England spinner Tom Hartley in training.
England spinner Tom Hartley in training. | Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES

England spinner Tom Hartley in training. | Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES

“We don’t want to go into the Test match with any preconceived ideas about the pitches, We have to adapt to the given conditions,” England captain Ben Stokes said on Wednesday.

Speaking to the media on the eve of the first Test of the five-match series against India, Stokes said they expected the pitches to take turn here.

“Well, it is unfortunate that off-spinner Shoaib Bashir couldn’t make it for the Test match here (because of a visa issue) but I hope he will join us soon,” Stokes said. “As a leader, as a captain when one of your teammates is affected by something like that, you get a bit emotional.”

The England captain said looking at the wicket here for the first Test, he was eagerly waiting for left-arm spinner and debutant Tom Hartley to get going.

“He was very impressive in the build-up for this Test series in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

“As a captain, I am pretty clear. Trying to exploit different situations. How to make the best use of the bowling attack I have. Having multiple options is always good,” Stokes said. “We are going into the first Test with just one seamer - Mark Wood. We hope he would be able to reverse swing and 90 miles per hour should be very difficult to play.

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“We look for short and sharp spells. But again things might change and he could well bowl long spells too,” Stokes said.

The England skipper said that making selections, and decisions come easier to him as they are in the best interest of the team.

When asked if the five-Test series in India is the toughest challenge for England in recent times, the 32-year-old explained, “Any team that comes to India has a tougher challenge. We understand India’s strength but we look for opportunities, we have to take every opportunity head on, give ourselves the best chance to win the games.”

“India is an incredible side, we know how hard it is going to be,” he added.

On the most experienced and successful fast bowler in the England team, James Anderson, missing out in the opening Test, he said, “You never know he might play the next game in this series depending on the conditions. It is important how we manage Jimmy and his workload.”

On the factors which might influence the result of the games apart from pitches, Stokes felt that India has quality spinners and quality batters and that they have to respond to any challenges that arise.

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