ENGLAND’S TOUR of INDIA
by Kevin Cain
The English Cricket team is scheduled to tour India between November 2016 and January 2017 to play five Tests, three One Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals. All the five day Tests will take place in 2016 and the full itinerary is:
November 9th-13th Rajkot,
November 17th-21st Visakhapatnam,
November 26th-30th Mohali, December 8th-12th Mumbai and
December 16th-20th Chennai.
The ODI's and T20's are all played in 2017 after the test series has finished. One Day Internationals are on:
15th January in Pune,
19th January in Cuttack and
22nd January in Kolkata.The cricket ends with three T20 games starting on the
26th January in Kanpur, then on the
29th of January in Nagpur, and the whole tour concludes on
1st February in Bangalore.
The three month long tour will give India the opportunity to retake the World No.1 ranking from their arch-rivals Pakistan if the results are favourable to them. On the other hand England will be hoping that they can put together similar performances to that of the 2012-2013 tour. They went on to win the four match test series 2-1 and then completed the rout back in England with a convincing 3-1 victory in the 5 match test series.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the dates and added six new Test venues (Indore, Rajkot, Visakhapatnam, Dharamsala, Ranchi and Pune) to be used from 2016. England will play at Rajkot and Visakhapatnam for the very first time before moving to more familiar grounds in the last three tests. It will be similar to the 2012 series between the two teams as England will play all five day test matches, then return home to return to the subcontinent in January 2017 and finish off the One Day Internationals and the T20 games.
The captain of India, Virat Kohli welcomed the announcement by the BCCI and said he was looking forward to an exciting contest. “This is going to be a competitive series. Both sides like to play hard fought cricket. England is one of the better sides in the world. So we can expect some high quality cricket even though we are playing at home.” Kohli said from the West Indies.Indian coach, Anil Kumle also welcomed the news of the tour, remarkably the great player was never involved in a five-match Test series at home whilst he was playing. “I have been involved in many Tests against England as a player but this is the first time that I will be involved in a 5-Test series as a coach. I am really looking forward to this contest.” he said.
India have found England a tough nut to crack in the recent past, in fact the last time the beat England in a Test series was back in 2008-2009 when the little Master Blaster, Sachin Tendulkar took center stage and inspired a 387 run chase in Chennai.
England will feel confident going into the series, but it must be noted that currently India are No.2i in the world test rankings. England's position of number five would suggest that they will have their work cut out and every player will have to perform if they come away with a series win.
Andrew Strauss, the director of England cricket suggested that there was no reason why Alastair Cook's team could not emulate the 2012 series, in which England won 2-1. A big concern for most England fans would be the obvious problem the team have at number three in the batting. The persistence of playing Joe Root there, purely because of no better solution, is damaging the form of one of England's best batsmen.
One solution is to take a gamble on a County number three, and releasing Root to play back in his best position at number four. This way if the gamble does not pay off, Root can anchor the innings and England do not lose two players. The form of Joe Root could be a vital factor if England win or lose.
Another problem area is England's bowling attack, all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson will definitely miss the first test and is a doubt for the second in Visakhapatnam. Alistair Cook leads an unchanged squad, that means that Jake Ball remains with the squad fresh from the tour of Bangladesh. Cook has been quoted as saying that players are likely to be rotated this winter.To England's advantage is their plethora of all-rounders, which provides a number of options. The return of Ben Stokes will be at number six, and it looks as though Moeen Ali will be pushed up the order to accommodate an extra spin bowler. This also means that Jonny Bairstow will possible go to number four, if the Root debate cannot be settled.
This all gives possible encouragement to England: Stokes and Buttler are explosive batsmen, able to win games almost single handedly, whilst Ali and Bairstow are in the best form of their lives with the bat. They have all played a great deal of test cricket so the argument for a rookie to come into the side might be scuppered.
In the ODI's and the T20's, England have a hard task ahead, India are ranked four and two respectively with England's rankings far behind. The sub-continent has always proved to be a hard hunting ground for English touring sides, the slow wickets and preference for spin is not something England are particularly fond of. But this young England team does have guts, it does not have disruptive superstars like Kevin Peterson to rip dressing rooms apart. England are very much “a team” these days, and if Alistair Cook can lead from the front opening the batting, then who knows what may happen.
Anybody fancy a curry?