Spin is being touted as the main weapon during England’s two-Test series against Bangladesh, which starts on Thursday, and that is likely to be the case although the role the seamers have to play cannot be underestimated.
The new ball is not going to stay hard for very long and it is vital that England’s fast bowlers make the most of it, bowl really straight and bring the stumps and pads, for LBW, into play
Weather, and in particular the heat, is a major factor in Bangladesh. In England, 10-over spells are not uncommon for bowlers but over there it’s likely to be short, high intensity four or five-over stints.
In places like Bangladesh, when you have the ball in hand you have to give 100 per cent every delivery, which is different to England when you can bowl within yourself a little bit knowing you may well get some help from the conditions.
Variations will also be important. You don’t often see slower balls in Test cricket in England but they will come into play in the subcontinent. It’s important to assess conditions as quickly as possible and be smart.
We already knew that James Anderson would be missing for the clashes with Bangladesh due to a shoulder injury, and he is now set to be unavailable for the first Test of the India tour next month.
If sounds strange given he is England’s leading Test wicket-taker of all-time with 463 scalps but if there is anywhere you could afford to miss Anderson it is in the subcontinent.
That’s not to say he isn’t a great bowler in those conditions but he is less effective when the ball isn’t swinging or bouncing as much.
In Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes, England have two players who can bowl a little bit faster and who can probably get a bit more out of the ball when it’s reversing because of that extra pace.
I don’t envisage Stuart Broad bowling too much other than with the new ball. Woakes is the best bowler England have at the minute and has been performing better than Anderson. He will be Alastair Cook’s go-to man if the skipper needs a wicket.
When he is on form Stokes is someone who can bowl really fast spells, make things happen and change the game from nowhere. I think England will cope absolutely fine without Anderson during this series.
England, meanwhile, have won all eight of their previous meetings with Bangladesh but the hosts are an improving side and drew home series against India, albeit one match, and South Africa during 2015.
History shows that England can be vulnerable in subcontinental surroundings when it really starts to spin but they have shown improvement.
It won’t be easy as Bangladesh have the ability to surprise and there might be a draw in there depending on how flat the pitches are, but England are more than capable of winning both Tests and certainly the series.