Following an underwhelming 2-2 draw against Pakistan at home, England’s Test team could face a major revamp as trips to Bangladesh and India arrive on the horizon. Concerned by their spin woes on moderately sluggish pitches, former players have called for a ‘horses for courses’ approach to tackle raging turners in the subcontinent.
In a freewheeling chat on BBC’s Test Match Special, Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell decided to select their ideal squad for boarding the plane to Asia. Even though they did not include the 38-year old Gareth Batty in the 16-man contingent, the duo did not rule out a surprise recall for the Surrey off-spinner.
Impressed with Batty’s record of 36 wickets from 14 matches at an average of 29.47 in the ongoing first-class season, Vaughan claimed, “Would you pick the best county spinner? Who is it? It's Gareth Batty.”
Echoing the erstwhile England skipper’s thoughts, Tufnell felt, “I think it'll be horses for courses in India, so I think he might have a chance. Why not? You take your best spinner to India because it's going to spin there.”
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Making his debut against Bangladesh at Dhaka in 2003, Batty has played 7 Tests and picked up 11 wickets at an average of 66.63. However, the right-armer’s vast domestic experience coupled with a paucity of options may well convince the selectors.
Although the veteran’s previous Test appearance came way back in 2005, Alec Stewart also advocated for his inclusion by affirming, “I'd bring Gareth Batty back as a one-off for this Test winter.”
However, Vaughan and Tufnell backed 26-year old Liam Dawson to join the likes of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid after the left-arm spinner’s promising introduction to international cricket in the one-off T20I against Sri Lanka last month.
Meanwhile, the batting department saw the beleaguered Alex Hales keeping his spot even as James Vince and Gary Ballance were booted out. Wanting to infuse freshness in the set-up, they went for Lancashire‘s Haseeb Hameed and a red-ball opportunity for the dangerous Sam Billings.
Due to security reasons, England’s tour to Bangladesh has been placed under considerable doubt. But, their 5-Test series in India will kick start as scheduled on November 9 at Rajkot.
Vaughan & Tufnell‘s Squad: Alastair Cook, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Haseeb Hameed, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Mark Wood, Liam Dawson, Jos Buttler, Sam Billings