Ben Duckett speaks to Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton on the revamped Sky Sports Cricket podcast about the upcoming tour of India and how he plans to play against their spin attack
LONDON: Nasser Hussain believes India fans are waiting to see how their side can put England’s Bazball strategy to bed when they tour the sub-continent later this month.
The tour has already promised some exciting storylines with the inclusion of Ben Stokes in the squad following his knee surgery, debutant spinners in Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir and India’s World Cup star Mohammed Shami missing the first two matches because of injury.
England last won a Test series in India 12 years ago under the captaincy of Alastair Cook where spin twins Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar starred in the momentous 2-1 triumph.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Indian cricket and there’s been a lot of talk about Bazball,” said Hussain on the Sky Sports Cricket podcast.
“My sense in the World Cup was that a lot of Indian fans are waiting to see how to put Bazball to bed.
“I think what India should do is ask for good pitches that spin a bit because I think their spinners and batters will then out-bat and out-spin ours.
“If they ask for pitches that spin a lot then it becomes a bit of a lottery and brings England’s spinners into the game. The way Bazball goes about its business, they won’t die wondering.”
Uncapped duo Hartley and Bashir will form part of England’s quadruple spin attack alongside Jack Leach, who returns after injury ruled him out of the Ashes last year, and Rehan Ahmed.
India have also named four spinners in their squad for the first two Tests with Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav returning to action after missing the tour to South Africa, and will be joined by Ravichandran Ashwin and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.
The last time England toured India was in 2021, when they crumbled in the face of extreme turn as Ashwin and Patel combined to take 60 wickets.
While India’s spin attack is under the spotlight, England’s opener Ben Duckett said he is aware their seam bowlers can do just as much damage.
“People talk about how good India’s spin bowling is but at the top of the order against the seam attack it’s going to be tough no matter how flat the pitches are,” Duckett told the Sky Sports Cricket podcast.
“I’ve obviously just played against, in my eyes, the best seam attack in the world this summer. I think the preparation in Abu Dhabi will be focused around facing the new ball spin.
“It’s going to be interesting, I don’t think I’ll get out blocking as many times as I did when I was last there.”
Duckett made his Test debut in 2016 against Bangladesh where England drew the series 1-1 after collapsing in the second and final match.
Since then, the 29-year-old has matured as a player embracing new techniques and in particular is known for playing a variation of sweep shots.
“I’ve played a lot of cricket since then and maturity is a big one for me in those years,” Duckett said.
“The biggest thing this time around is that whatever India throw at me, it’s not going to be a shock. I’ve played on those kinds of pitches. I know full well what to expect when I get out there.
“I wasn’t the last left-hander to struggle out there in those conditions against Ashwin. He’s so good everywhere.
“I’m sure he’s going to get me out again, he’s a world-class bowler. But I would back myself now on a good pitch or a flatter pitch to not feel like I have to play aggressive shots or sweep every ball.
“If those pitches are spinning, and with the way this team have played over the last 18 months, I know what my strengths are and I’m certainly not going to die wondering.”
England’s Test tour of India fixtures
Thursday January 25 – Monday January 29 2024: India vs England (First Test), Hyderabad
Friday February 2 – Tuesday February 6 2024: India vs England (Second Test), Visakhapatnam
Thursday February 15 – Monday February 19 2024: India vs England (Third Test), Rajkot
Friday February 23 – Tuesday February 27 2024: India vs England (Fourth Test), Ranchi
Thursday March 7 – Monday March 11 2024: India vs England (Fifth Test), Dharamsala