Former cricketer Graeme Swann believes that the England cricket team should find ways to defeat India amidst the Indian conditions in the upcoming Test series as they are ‘virtually unbeatable’ at home. Swann, who made 60 Test appearances for England and scalped 255 wickets, further stated that Australia isn’t the best team in the world anymore, and thus, they should move away from looking forward to the Ashes.
India, under the leadership of stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane, recently scripted a historic 2-1 win against Australia down under in spite of missing out on some of their key players due to injuries.
This was India’s second consecutive series win against Australia on their own turf and a third consecutive series win in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy since 2016-17.
Along with the top-notch exhibitions from Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant, young players namely Shubman Gill, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan and Washington Sundar played a key role in the Indian triumph.
“We have to move away from looking forward to the Ashes series. It is a mentality ingrained in this country. Australia are not the best team in the world anymore. They used to be, by miles, and they were the benchmark to strive for. They are not now, but we are obsessed with this,” Swann told The Sun.
The veteran spinner added,” I think beating India in India, is a far higher thing to strive for right now. They are virtually unbeatable in India since we beat them in 2012. Why isn’t that the whole thing?”
“We are not going to beat India unless spinners are taking wickets and then we have got someone like we had with Kevin Peterson,” said Swann, who picked 41 wickets including 2 five-wicket hauls in 10 Test matches against India.
Swann, who last donned played international cricket in 2013, reckons that the only way England can beat India on their own soil is if the spinners take wickets and some batter opts for an aggressive approach like Kevin Pieterson did during the tour of India in 2012-13.
Pieterson had smashed a match-winning 186 during the first innings of the second Test at Wankhede that England eventually won by 10 wickets. He ended up as one of the highest run-getters in the series, amassing 338 runs in 4 matches at an average of 48.29.
Both India and England have announced the squads for the first two Test matches.
Skipper Virat Kohli, who had missed the last three Test matches against Australia as he was on paternity leave, is back in the 18-man unit along with all-rounder Hardik Pandya and pacer Ishant Sharma.
All-rounder Axar Patel has received his maiden Test call and being a like-to-like replacement for Ravindra Jadeja, the former could make his debut in the upcoming four-match Test series. Sundar, Shardul and Siraj have been named as well post their heroics in the Border-Gavaskar 2020-21.
For England, notable additions into the Test squad are all-rounder Ben Stokes, top-order batsman Rory Burns and bowling all-rounder Jofra Archer, who aren’t a part of the ongoing 2-match Test series against Sri Lanka. Stokes and Archer were rested for the Sri Lanka tour, while Burns missed out the series as he was expecting his first child.
Some of the surprise omissions were Sam Curran, Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood.
Not to mention, England have named 6 reserve players in addition to the 16-man squad in case of any replacements.
England had lost the previous tour of India in 2016-17 by a margin of 4-0. Joe Root emerged as the highest run-getter (491 runs) while leg-spinner Adil Rashid bagged the most number of wickets (23) for the visitors.
The four-match Test series comprising India and England will commence from February 7 with the first two Tests at M Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, followed by the remaining matches at Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad.