THE World Cup in March was a wake-up call for England who exhibited a brand of cricket that would’ve looked outdated 15 years ago.
On the face of it the whistle-stop tour of India doesn’t have much riding on it, but any experience the likes of Jade Dernbach and Steven Finn can gain bowling in the sort of conditions they will encounter next month will stand them in good stead.
England will be playing a lot of cricket in this area of the world in the coming 12 months – they’ll defend their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka this time next year – so there is plenty to be gained, regardless of the confidence a series win would bring.
Of the new additions to the bowling department Dernbach is the one who excites me the most. ‘Work in progress’ is the popular phrase trotted out when you get a cricketer of his ilk bursting through, but in his instance it’s accurate.
While you know what you’re likely to get with Finn, and it’s usually high quality, the charismatic Surrey paceman, although occasionally erratic, has the potential to offer more.
England haven’t had a reliable death bowler since Andrew Flintoff was in his pomp, and with so much variety at his disposal Dernbach is increasingly looking like the man who captain Alastair Cook will look to in pressure situations.
Speaking of Cook, whereas his predecessor Andrew Strauss was hamstrung for options, the Essex opener is now almost waylaid.
In the absence of a second spinner – though Scott Borthwick may emerge to fill that position – England have been crying out for someone capable of taking pace off the ball. Ravi Bopara has never been able to nail down a role in an England side, be it the one-day or Test team, but he proved this summer he’s the man to replace Paul Collingwood.
Elsewhere, I don’t think I’ve been more taken aback by a debut performance than Jonny Bairstow’s in Cardiff and the Yorkshireman, worth a place for his batting alone, will provide competition for gloveman Craig Kieswetter.
I’d never advocate England touring India without frontline bowlers of the calibre of Stuart Broad and James Anderson, or a batsman as skilled as Eoin Morgan, but on this occasion their unavailability may prove a blessing in disguise, if it provides the youngsters an opportunity to thrive.