In the realm of Bazball, England has showcased exceptional batting prowess in recent times. However, former England skipper Michael Atherton believes that the upcoming five-match Test series against India will see spinners playing a pivotal role, ultimately influencing the outcome.
India is renowned for its spin-friendly tracks, and with a formidable spin attack led by the experienced quartet of Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel, Michael Atherton emphasizes the significance of India’s superior quality of spinners in the series.
While England boasts a four-member spin-bowling arsenal, including Jack Leach, Rehan Ahmed (leg-spinner), and uncapped duo Tom Hartley (left-arm spinner) and Shoaib Bashir (off-spinner), the concern lies in their collective lack of experience in Indian conditions. Only Jack Leach has prior Test experience in India, and Michael Atherton anticipates this inexperience becoming a significant challenge as the series unfolds.
Michael Atherton expressed his prediction on Sky Sports, stating, “I think India will win. Their spinners are better than England’s, and that will be the defining thing in the end. If you go to India, spin will play a big part, it historically has done and I suspect it always will do. India do have a very strong seam attack as well.”
Highlighting the diversity of India’s spinners, Michael Atherton notes the presence of two left-arm finger spinners, a wrist spinner, and the legendary Ravichandran Ashwin. In contrast, England’s spinners face the challenge of inexperience, with only Jack Leach offering a more solid background in such conditions.
“It will be a particular challenge for them, but the selectors see a high ceiling for them,” Michael Atherton added, referring to the potential upside in the development of England’s spinners.
Apart from the calibre of spinners, England also faces the weight of history. India has maintained dominance against England in the long format, securing victory in 16 consecutive Test series at home since their 2-1 loss to Alastair Cook’s England side in 2012.
The series, set to commence on January 25 in Hyderabad, promises a captivating duel between the two sides, with subsequent matches scheduled for Visakhapatnam (February 2-6), Rajkot (February 15-19), Ranchi (February 23-27), and Dharamshala (March 7-11). As England aims to overcome the formidable Indian challenge, the role of spinners and the historical context add layers of intrigue to this highly anticipated Test series.