The long summer in England, leading to a heatwave, has threatened to snatch the hosts’ main weapon – swing – ahead of the first Test against India in Birmingham that begins on Wednesday.
If the weather persists, spin is more likely to be the new juice in the concoction and that, perhaps, is the reason why England chose Adil Rashid as the lone spinner for the Test.
Former England all-rounder Derek Pringle – who had earned the sobriquet ‘Pring the swing’ for his outswingers – agrees that the forthcoming series is going to be ‘different’.
The former Essex cricketer, who had a dream debut against India at Lord’s in 1982, is putting his money on the spinners. “It is always good to see wrist spinners play. I think England batted well against [Kuldeep Yadav] towards the end of the limited-overs series. There has been a bit of controversy over here regarding Rashid’s selection because six months ago, he didn’t want to play red-ball cricket any more.
“The new chairman of selectors picked Rashid and Jos Buttler who haven’t played red-ball cricket [recently]. It is going to be a talking point for the English fans.
“The summer has been unusual. It has never been like this in 40 years. Generally, in England, you have to have a new ball and a good pair of fast bowlers, but then, this could be a different series. The Indian spinners can dominate, which they haven’t in the past couple of series,” he added.
Bairstow the man
Pringle, who picked up the pen after retirement, has followed most of the current English players from their county days, thanks to his vocation as a journalist, and is aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
Among the batsmen, Pringle feels Bairstow could be a real gem in the series. “He is one guy who developed into a very good player. Five years ago, you perhaps saw that he seemed to have a flaw against the short ball. He has become a fantastic batsman and a pretty good wicketkeeper. He is a great asset to England.
ALSO READ| Why Buttler can't stop gushing about IPL
“Ben Stokes is another great player and we would want to see the best of him, too,” said Pringle, who was one of the bowlers Pakistan couldn’t decode when it won the 1992 World Cup.
Pringle, however, is hopeful that India skipper Virat Kohli will make the series competitive. “I think your captain, Kohli, is desperate for his team to do well. He didn’t have a very good season with the bat last time and he would want to turn it around.”
- ATP Rankings: Novak Djokovic finishes at No. 1 for a record-extending eighth time
- Indian sports news wrap, December 4
- Unnati Hooda keen to perform well in Guwahati Masters
- France sports minister reacts to Nantes fan’s death, pitches ban on away fans
- IPL 2024 auction: No Hugh Edmeades for Dec 19 event; BCCI set to rope in a new gavel master after five seasons