Mark Butcher questions England’s preparation for the Test series vs India
By SMCS - Jan 12, 2024 11:40 am
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Former England player Mark Butcher opined on the side’s lack of preparation for the upcoming five-match Test series in India. It will start in Hyderabad on January 25. Apart from an 11-day training camp in Abu Dhabi, England will not play any practice matches in India before the first Test as well. They will arrive in Hyderabad only three days before the opening Test, which can be a challenge in red-ball cricket.

England Australia
England vs Australia

However, since the beginning of the Bazball era, England have been in sublime Test form, winning 13 of their 18 games with a solitary draw. Yet, they didn’t have a good series in India, losing the previous two Test series by 1-3 and 0-4 margins as well.

Speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Butcher said, “Everybody believes going to India that you’re unlikely to win a five-Test match series in India right? But what people will be less likely to be gentle about is if you go there without having done the requisite getting ready for it and then get battered. That’s kind of inexcusable. Particularly given the huge gap that there has been for the Test team between July and now whereby there’s no real reason why they couldn’t have spent three weeks in India leading up to the series.”

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Butcher further added: “Frankly I’d be a little bit terrified if I was playing. Most of the guys haven’t played any long form cricket since July. Very few of the squad were involved a great deal in the rundown of the County Championship which finished at the back end of September. We’re now three months down the road with nobody having had any sort of middle practice at all.”

However, The Ben Stokes-led England side have not played any Test matches since the 2-2 drawn Ashes series at home in July as well. Mark Butcher also admitted that the current England side remained concerned about the lack of preparation for competitive red-ball cricket for the tour of India.

Australia England
Australia won the Ashes 2023 opener against England

“It’s totally in keeping with the way England are doing things, and their motto is, ‘Just because you’ve always done something before doesn’t mean you should always do it forever and a day’. But I think, from a playing point of view, I would be a little bit concerned about not having felt that competition, being out in the middle and taking guard on something where the runs you make and your wicket are important,” Butcher said.

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However, Butcher also added that the last couple of Ashes series as evidence of how the lack of practice games proved costly as well. Notably, England are yet to lose a Test series under the Stokes-McCullum duo since June 2022. On the other hand, India are coming off a good series-leveling win against South Africa in Cape Town as well.

“England did a similar thing in the lead up to the last Ashes series away from home and we saw how that went. They did a similar thing leading into the Ashes series at home during the course of this summer and were 2-0 down before they got going. You certainly couldn’t say for sure that this England side with a lack of experience, or a lack of hot shot spin bowling options in particular, would be in a position to do anything like they did against Australia, coming back from 2-0 down, against this India team who simply do not lose series at home,” Mark Butcher concluded.