England’s problems against spin bowling are nothing new. It’s been an issue in Test matches for decades, especially when going away from home.
After the high of thrashing Australia 6-0 in limited overs matches, India’s Kuldeep Yadav brought England back to earth yesterday with a match-winning spell of 5-24 at Old Trafford in the first Twenty20.
The left-arm wrist-spinner bowled really well, and it’s not a type of bowling you come across often – either in international or domestic cricket.
Guys aren’t used to facing that angle or skill. Sometimes players can come out of the blue and change the game. It happens.
You can watch as much video analysis as you like, but until you face the guy and get used to the spinning ball coming towards you it’s bound to be difficult.
There aren’t many quality spinners in county cricket so it’s not surprising English batsmen then find facing spin difficult in international cricket.
Players who are getting Indian Premier League exposure like Jos Buttler are getting valuable experience of facing the Indian spinners in trying conditions.
But at the domestic level it’s tough because not everyone has the luxury of going to the IPL. Most are more used to combating seamers like Darren Stevens on April wickets.
England have had problems in the past against players like Muttiah Muralitharan, but the more you play against them the more you get used to it.
Captain Eoin Morgan, who was one of Yadav’s victims, admitted he deceived the England batsmen and that they need to reassess their plans.
They have to try and find a way of picking which way he is turning the ball – whether it be by watching the revolutions on the ball, how he holds it, or by his wrist position.
Having said that I’m not too worried about spin in the one-day matches, where the ball doesn’t tend to rag and turn. It’s generally been in Tests between days three and five when England are facing quality spin that the problems arise.
English pitches aren’t renowned for taking spin like those in the sub-continent, but we’re having a dry summer so I think wickets will turn more than they normally do, even if the hosts try to keep moisture.
Had the series been played earlier on in the summer in cooler conditions with the ball moving around it would have been different. But whether they like it or not spin is set to be a massive factor this summer, which undoubtedly plays into India’s hands.
Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid bowled really well against Australia to finish the one-day series as the two highest wicket-takers, but they won’t play in the Test arena, where England are trying out new spinners.
England have trialled Jack Leach and Dom Bess and they will certainly be up against it in these conditions, competing with the skill and experience of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
However, England will relish being tested by a side like India. They want to see where they’re at. Australia looked like a pretty poor unit, so a fresh challenge, especially a year out from the World Cup, should be welcomed.