Comeback man Gareth Batty admits to have studied Saeed Ajmal over the years
Although there had been considerable talk regarding his return to the international circuit, Gareth Batty’s inclusion to the England Test squad to tour Bangladesh still came across as a surprise. Eager to utilize another opportunity at the highest level, the 38-year old revealed that he was not reading too much into the question marks surrounding his age and remained confident of putting up a good show.
In a column for Evening Standard, the off-spinner claimed that he expected the call-up and shed light into improving his trade by watching other contemporary bowlers such as Saeed Ajmal closely.
Batty wrote, “Sure enough, I got the call on Wednesday evening to tell me I was in the Test squad for the forthcoming tour of Bangladesh. I am a very patriotic man so when my country calls, I respond without hesitation. I know people may question my age. I will be 39 next month but I honestly believe I am bowling better than I ever have.”
He added, “I have always looked to improve throughout my career and my understanding of what I can do gets better every year. Until my body can no longer do what I ask of it, I am confident I will continue to become a better bowler. I always watch other spinners around the world to try to add some of what they do to my game.
For example, I have studied Saeed Ajmal, the Pakistani off-spinner, over the years. By watching closely his approach to the crease, I have been able to bowl better at left-handed batsmen.“
After making his debut against Bangladesh at Dhaka in 2003, the Yorkshire-born cricketer went on to play another six Tests and picked up 11 wickets at an average of 66.63. Even though consistent County form earned him a recall as a spinner who could also chip in with the bat, the presence of regulars such as Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid as well as the highly-rated Zafar Ansari may result in a stiff competition for getting into the playing eleven.
But, Batty felt, “A squad of four spinners is a wonderful thing and I feel very privileged to be part of it. Bowling spin is my craft, my trade and I’m very passionate about it. Anything I can offer — either through playing or providing a sounding for other spinners — then I will do my utmost.
“It is an exciting challenge, whether you are my age, or on your first tour like Zafar Ansari. There is huge skill within the spin bowling group and our challenge is to adapt to conditions and help England win.”