New Delhi: Former Australia fast-bowler Jason Gillespie believes England’s fast-bowling attack needs to complement left-arm spinner Jack Leach for succeeding in the five-match Test series against India, starting on January 25 in Hyderabad. Leach has played 35 Tests for England since his debut in 2018 and picked 124 wickets at an average of 34.2. He missed last year’s Ashes at home due to a stress fracture in the back, but is now all set to lead England’s charge with the spin in the upcoming five Tests against India.
Alongside Leach in India will be leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, who made his Test debut in Karachi against Pakistan and picked a five-wicket haul. There is also the uncapped spin-bowling duo of left-arm spinner Tom Hartley and off-spinner Shoaib Bashir.
“Leach is a fine spinner, but he’s a role player for England, much in the mould of Ashley Giles in the 2005 Ashes. Giles was unheralded, averaging two wickets a Test in that memorable series, but his complementing of the four quicks shouldn’t be underestimated.’
“Leach does a similar job for England now, particularly in the UK — although he’s going to have to be quite a bit more prominent in India, with Rehan Ahmed, a leg-spinner with a lot of potential but just one cap, and two new picks in Tom Hartley, of Lancashire, and Somerset’s Shoaib Bashir behind him.”
“There is a lot of expectation on him heading into the first Test on Thursday, that’s for sure. It’s not as if Leach has played 70 matches, either. He’s played only half that, but because they have selected three frightfully inexperienced players, he is the main man.”
“Being lead spinner changes the onus on you as a bowler. And by the way, Indians are pretty decent players of spin. So what England must do is make sure their pace attack complements Leach’s slow left-armers,” wrote Gillespie in his column for Daily Mail on Sunday.
India have emerged victorious in 16 consecutive Test series at home ever since they lost 2-1 to England in 2012. But England are yet to lose a Test series under captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum. Gillespie thinks the visitors’ are on the right path, but cautioned them about having days when their attacking approach might not pay off. IANS