‘If he shins Kohli or nicks off Rohit…’: England coach on young spinner | Cricket

The collective experience of England’s spin department set to travel to India for a five-match Test series is 35. Out of which, 34 belong to Jack Leach, who is returning to cricket after a long injury lay-off due to a lower back stress fracture. Among the other spinners in the squad, only Rehan Ahmed has Test experience. He made an impressive debut against Pakistan, picking up seven wickets in the match. But he is only 19. Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley are uncapped. Although captain Ben Stokes has upgraded Joe Root to the all-rounder category in subcontinent conditions, England’s spin attack, on paper, hardly oozes any confidence.

England’s Rehan Ahmed, right, is congratulated by teammate Joe Root(AP)

Speak to Jeetan Patel and he would vociferously disagree.

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Brendon McCulum’s assistant coach and a former New Zealand off-spinner who knows a thing or two about bowling in India feels the young England spinners can cause trouble to the strong Indian batting unit featuring captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

“You can say things but it’s hard not to see those guys at the top of your mark. Our job as coaches is to take pressure off them, to tell them it doesn’t matter, as long as you put in and are willing to bowl the next ball.

“So Stokesy and the coaches will simplify it for them; we’ll take on the tactics. With young guys, you want them thinking of just one thing. And if, say, Rehan shins Virat [lbw] or nicks off Rohit and takes away that memory, aren’t we setting him up for life?” Patel told The Guardian before setting off for the UAE. England will hold an 11-day camp in Abu Dhabi to prepare for the Test series starting on January 25. They will only reach Hyderabad, the venue for the series opener, three days before.

There has been a lot of talk about sides not playing practice matches before an important tour but Patel stood by ECB’s decision.

“Guys want volume, be it batting or bowling; time to work and explore their options,” he says. “But it’s going to be a fine line in terms of training for this one,” he said.

England is not expecting anything other than turning pitches in India, especially after India captain Rohit Sharma openly criticised the pitch at Newlands and asked teams to be prepared for surfaces that would assist turn from Day 1.

I can’t see India not producing bunsens [spinning pitches], especially after the recent comments from Rohit [Sharma, their captain]. And rightly so, that’s the whole point of home advantage. So we have requested a blend of pitches in Abu Dhabi.

“These things are why I love my job; it’s brilliant to be involved in Test cricket. I’d possibly like to do some more work in white-ball cricket – I did a stint in the Hundred last year – and take our attacking mentality into it. I think teams can’t look to defend in the field in T20 any more. But I also wouldn’t change my job for the world,” Patel added.

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