"Stokes can be England's gamechanger," says Jason Gillespie
With the India v England Test series just around the corner, Aussie legend Jason Gillespie picks his star player for the series.
In an exclusive interview with The Times of India, he also went onto divulge tactics that he believes could help pacemen achieve success in spin-friendly sub-continent conditions.
Players to keep an eye out for in the upcoming series
With Australia set to visit India after the contest with England, he was asked to compare the English and Aussie pace attacks, to which he said, “I'm a bit biased. I would go with the Aussies. England have spin options. But they feel their strength is pace. Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid have a tough task. Starc and Josh Hazlewood with Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Marsh to complement will be a good attack.”
When asked to pick players who could have an impact in the upcoming test series, he chose Ben Stokes as the one to watch out for.
Heaping praise on the Durham all-rounder, he said, “I think Ben Stokes can be the gamechanger for England. He is renowned for reverse swing and bowls at pace, as was evident in Bangladesh.”
Gillespie also said he believes Stokes’ batting will also cause a worry in the Indian ranks, saying, “He can cause India some problems not only with the ball but also with his aggressive batting.”
He further added, “England will certainly miss James Anderson, who can be lethal with the new and old ball. Woakes too can have an impact and is dangerous when he bowls close to the batsmen.”
There were also words of praise for Aussie spearhead Mitchell Starc from Gillespie, “For Australia, Mitchell Starc is a superstar. He bowls at very good pace, swings the new ball and reverses the old one. He possesses a devastating yorker. He uses the angles very well. He has the short ball up his sleeve and bowls it with genuine pace.”
Tactics pacers should deploy in Indian conditions
With England set to face India in a five-match Test series starting November 9th, Gillespie, who enjoyed a stellar career for the Kangaroos, told TOI that fast bowlers can achieve success in Indian conditions if they “cut down their ego.”
Elaborating on that, he said, “Everyone assumes conditions here suit slow bowlers, the mindset has to change.” He further added, “There are options to take wickets as a pacer. You have to adjust the length. I think it also goes down to how the pacers are rotated in these hot conditions.”
The 41-year old, who was the coach of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club until recently, stressed on the fact that the faster bowlers should be willing to run in at the batsmen non-stop, revealing tactics that his team employed in the 2004 series against the Indians.
“In 2004, we decided to put our egos away and have a fielder at square leg boundary, catching men in front of the stumps, to deny Indian batsmen boundaries and make them earn their runs,” he said, adding, “We ran in and wanted to test the fitness of batsmen. We were ready to bowl stump to stump and repeat it,” he said.
The Sydney-born pacer, who enjoyed some success in India, picking 43 wickets in 10 Tests, also highlighted the importance of reverse swing in the Indian conditions, saying, “Reverse swing is always the key. Fielders shouldn't rotate the ball among themselves as sweaty palms can affect the ability to reverse.”
He also advised bowlers to use the cutters prodigiously in India, that the cross-seam deliveries were a good option to possess in a fast bowler’s repertoire for conditions in India. “The cross-seam cutters can behave differently. In India, as a paceman, you have to think laterally. It's neither going to swing nor seam; hold the ball across and bowl cutters, wobble the seam a bit, use the width of the crease,” he said.
“Maintain your discipline and keep hitting a specific spot on the wicket of a shoe size and try to create indecision in the batsmen's mind.”
When asked which Indian batsman he thought will be the most difficult to bowl at, Gillespie said, “Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara. The former has a vast array of shots, good mindset and would put the scoreboard pressure back on the bowler, while the latter is hard to dislodge and waits for a bowler's third and fourth spell.”
He didn’t stop there, as he went on to compare the Saurashtra batsman and India’s Test team captain to two of India’s greatest-ever batsmen. He said, “I see Pujara's approach to that of Rahul Dravid and Kohli to that of Tendulkar.”
The lanky pacer signed off saying he would enjoy a stint as a coach in IPL, sounding out a subtle come-and-get-me plea, “I'm very much interested in being part of the IPL. I will be available as I only coach Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash.”