Shoaib Bashir, Gus Atkinson and Tom Hartley have been called up for England’s Test squad for the series in India. Captain Ben Stokes is expected to be fit to lead the side, but will not be able to bowl.
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Somerset spinner Bashir called up as Stokes is set to be fit
In a bold move, England have included uncapped 20-year-old Somerset off-spinner Bashir in their squad for the upcoming five-match Test series against India. Despite having played only six first-class matches since his debut in June, Bashir’s impressive performance, with 10 wickets in 2023, earned him a spot in the squad.
Surrey fast bowler Atkinson and Lancashire left-arm spinner Hartley, both uncapped at the Test level but having represented England in white-ball cricket, are also part of the squad. The first Test is scheduled to commence in Hyderabad on January 25.
The return of batter and vice-captain Ollie Pope and left-arm spinner Jack Leach after recovering from injuries adds experience to the side.
Stokes will lead the team but will focus solely on batting as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.
Rob Key, managing director of England men’s cricket, stated that Stokes’ surgery was successful, and while he is expected to be fit, bowling is not on the immediate agenda. Key emphasised the ongoing process of getting Stokes back into bowling form.
Bashir, described as “very raw” but with a “high ceiling,” showcased his talent by taking 10 wickets in his six first-class matches in 2023. Key expressed the team’s willingness to play Bashir if needed, emphasising that this marks the beginning of a journey toward developing a world-class spinner.
The squad also includes Hartley, who made his England one-day international debut against Ireland in September, and Atkinson, part of Jos Buttler’s recent World Cup squad in India. Notably absent is Hampshire slow left-armer Liam Dawson, despite being the leading English spinner in the County Championship in 2023.
Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, who was omitted from the Ashes squad, makes a return along with leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, 19, who impressed with seven wickets on his Test debut against Pakistan last year.
While all-rounder Chris Woakes, player of the series during the Ashes, is not included, Key expects to see a lot of him in the side throughout 2024, considering the busy schedule with 17 Tests scheduled.
England’s Test squad includes James Anderson, their leading Test wicket-taker, alongside Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood in the pace attack. The team aims to use bowlers like Anderson and Robinson, known for their ability to utilise reverse swing. England is set to face India, the number one ranked Test side, in a series away, with their last Test series win in India dating back to 2012-13.
England have had a rough time in white-ball cricket this winter and will be hoping that they can bounce back on their return to Test cricket. However, given the quality of India and the fact that England have not won there in a decade it will be a tough ask. Bettors need to look at the squad, analyse the general form of those players who are also involved in white-ball cricket and weigh up whether England can upset the odds when betting on the series.
Check out the best cricket betting sites in the UK with Betting.com when making your picks for the India series.
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