England’s Selection for India: A “Bazball” Approach to Test Spin Bowling?

When touring India, it’s hardly unexpected when a visiting nation includes several spin options in its bowling arsenal. The England side will touch down on the subcontinent in January next year with four specialist spinners in the touring party.

It’s not the number of spin bowlers included that is surprising, but rather the makeup of the slow bowling options. Yes, Somerset’s Jack Leach is unsurprisingly included, with the left-armer being England’s first choice in Test matches since 2021 and ending 2022 as the international bowler with the third-most test wickets.

Compared to Leach, who has 35 Test caps and 135 wickets, the other spinners in the England squad are complete novices in the international game. Of the three, only 19-year-old Rehan Ahmed from Leicestershire has any Test experience with a single Test cap, his debut in the Third Test against Pakistan in Karachi in December 2022.

Ahmed excelled in the match when he became England’s youngest Test cricketer in history at 18 years and 126 days. After facing a baptism of fire in the Pakistan first innings, where he took 2/89 at more than four runs per over, the young right-arm leg break bowler claimed 5/48 in the second innings to help England to an eight-wicket victory and a 3-0 series whitewash.

Rehan Ahmed’s five-wicket haul made him the youngest debutant in men’s Test history to pick up five wickets in an innings. Based on this performance in subcontinental conditions, he’s potentially a wise selection for England’s upcoming Indian tour.

When touring India, it’s hardly unexpected when a visiting nation includes several spin options in its bowling arsenal. The England side will touch down on the subcontinent in January next year with four specialist spinners in the touring party.

It’s not the number of spin bowlers included that is surprising, but rather the makeup of the slow bowling options. Yes, Somerset’s Jack Leach is unsurprisingly included, with the left-armer being England’s first choice in Test matches since 2021 and ending 2022 as the international bowler with the third-most test wickets.

With the current spin bowling contingent, it may help that England has Joe Root and Harry Brook within its ranks. Many will regard England’s selection of spin bowlers for India as a “Bazball” tactic of the highest order. These tactics have worked very well before, but are McCullum and Stokes taking the approach to a whole new level this time?

Compared to Leach, who has 35 Test caps and 135 wickets, the other spinners in the England squad are complete novices in the international game. Of the three, only 19-year-old Rehan Ahmed from Leicestershire has any Test experience with a single Test cap, his debut in the Third Test against Pakistan in Karachi in December 2022.

Ahmed excelled in the match when he became England’s youngest Test cricketer in history at 18 years and 126 days. After facing a baptism of fire in the Pakistan first innings, where he took 2/89 at more than four runs per over, the young right-arm leg break bowler claimed 5/48 in the second innings to help England to an eight-wicket victory and a 3-0 series whitewash.

Rehan Ahmed’s five-wicket haul made him the youngest debutant in men’s Test history to pick up five wickets in an innings. Based on this performance in subcontinental conditions, he’s potentially a wise selection for England’s upcoming Indian tour.