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Thursday, May 26, 2022

India vs England: Test cricket might be tough for Adil Rashid

Adil Rashid used to bowl good balls, but not good overs for a longer period. We worked a lot on that. Now his alignment, the biomechanics, is much better. And it has made a difference.

Written by Mushtaq Ahmed |
Updated: July 28, 2018 9:43:28 am
Adil Rashid has been included in the England Test squad

First-class cricket, and Test match bowling, is totally different to limited-overs cricket. So talking about the wrist-spinners, if they don’t have adequate number of overs in four-day cricket in the lead-up to a Test match, then it becomes very difficult to bowl long spells. You can manage 10 overs. Things get tough after that.

In white-ball cricket, fielding positions are different. There’s a lot of protection for the bowlers in the deep. It makes the job easier for a wrist-spinner. But in Test cricket, you will have fielders around the bat. Field settings would a lot more attacking. Four-day cricket helps a leg-spinner get into the groove with regard to adjusting to this sort of field setting. He gets the required confidence to bowl an attacking line and length, which he carries forward to Test cricket. Otherwise, you are always walking a thin line. If you concede a couple of boundaries or bowl a few bad balls, that can ruin your whole game.

From this point of view, Adil Rashid’s inclusion in the England Test squad could have a negative side. You got to have a lot of overs in first-class cricket before going into a Test match. This is very important. I’m not sure whether it’s a mistake (by the England selectors) to pick Rashid. He is not an inexperienced cricketer. He has been there. But from an overall point of view, if he is not playing four-day cricket, he might find it difficult to get into the Test match mode of bowling – bowling good overs consistently over a longer period of time.

The upside is that Rashid has a good wrong’un. Leg-spinners with a potent googly in his repertoire can be very handy against the tail-enders. Especially the last four batsmen don’t play the leggies well. They can manage fast bowling and finger spin. But if a leg-spinner has a deceptive googly, then you can clean up the tail quickly. If the last four batsmen get into the 30s and 40s, that could be damaging for the fielding team. The advantage of having a leg-spinner is that he can help you avoid the problem. Rashid can offer England an advantage in this regard. I had worked extensively with Rashid, when I was the England spin-bowling coach. He is a great lad. One-day cricket and T20 cricket have helped him a lot in terms of shaping his career. He also played first-class cricket for Yorkshire. But of late he hasn’t played much (last first-class match in September last year). But he has altered his action a bit; corrected it in fact. Earlier, he used to have problems with his alignment. It was the reason for his inconsistency. He used to bowl good balls, but not good overs for a longer period. We worked a lot on that. Now his alignment, the biomechanics, is much better. And it has made a difference.

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Then again, coming directly to a Test match from limited-overs cricket, without any first-class overs in the bag, can put a leg-spinner under a lot of pressure. It would be a big test of his temperament. Coming to Kuldeep Yadav, honestly I haven’t seen him up close. I have seen him bowl odd overs, but I can’t judge him on that basis. But he is a wrist-spinner and if he has good variations, then as I said, he will trouble the lower-order. It would be difficult for the tail-enders to pick his wrong’uns. So with Kuldeep in the side, and if he can show good variations, then there’s a possibility that India might account for the last four-five England wickets for around 115 runs. It could make a big difference.

Kuldeep Yadav could be India’s attacking option. (Source: Reuters)

Chinaman bowlers belong to a rare breed. The biggest advantage they have is that the batsmen don’t face this type of bowling in the nets frequently. So the chinaman bowlers can always be a surprise package. Take the case of Joe Root, he might have scored runs in the ODIs, but he hasn’t faced this type of bowling much in red-ball cricket. So he could be under pressure in Tests (against Kuldeep). The pitches could be dry (because of the prevailing heatwave). Unlike India and Pakistan, the English batters don’t grow up playing spin from the school level. They don’t get enough practice against spin. It leads to a mental block and also technical deficiencies against spin. I was the England’s spin-bowling coach, when they won the Test series in India (2012-13). I used to put in a big shift with the batsmen in the nets – Root, Kevin Pietersen – all of them. I always used to tell them that against quality spin, your technique has to be very smart. You have to pick up singles at every available opportunity. You have to use your feet. You have to use to the sweep to good effect. At the same time, you have to trust your defence. We worked really hard during that series and I think they still remember that.

As for Kuldeep, a lot will depend on how he will be used. You need a very smart captain to use these types of bowlers (properly). The captain’s game-reading has to be spot on – where it is going, when to bring on a left-arm wrist-spinner etc. Maybe, it’s better to use a chinaman bowler against a new batsman, rather than in the middle of a big partnership. He would be your attacking option. Also, it’s important to have the right field placements for different batsmen. So, a lot depends on the captain in terms of developing a chinaman bowler. If Kuldeep plays, I think the Indian think-tank would be focusing on building a strategy around him.

And I think India should go to the first Test with two spinners – Ashwin and Kuldeep. The dry conditions would certainly be a factor. You need five bowlers to win a Test. India have a very good allrounder (Hardik Pandya), who will be the third seamer. So, two specialist fast bowlers and two specialist spinners.

(As told to Shamik Chakrabarty)

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