Adaptability key for Cook
Alastair Cook acknowledges England will have to be flexible in their approach to the four-Test series with India.
As is usually the case during the early stages of a tour, there has been much speculation over who will be selected for the series-opener in Ahmedabad from November 15.
Cook understandably refuses to be drawn on whether England are likely to utilise two frontline spin bowlers in Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, as they did in three of their five matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka last winter.
Instead, the captain and team director Andy Flower plan to assess conditions on a game-to-game basis before making a final decision on the line-up.
“Clearly the balance of the side is going to be very important,” said Cook.
“We’re going to have to be able to adapt to whatever surface we’re going to play on.
“Whether we play two spinners or three seamers, we’re going to have to try and find the best balance, which we feel will give us the best chance of winning.
“We’ve got to be flexible in selection to give ourselves the best chance.”
While reflecting on a “really good first week” on Indian soil, Cook confirmed he will sit out England’s second warm-up game, a three-day fixture against Mumbai A at the Dr DY Patil Sports Academy starting tomorrow.
Stuart Broad is therefore set to lead the team for the first time since he was named as Cook’s deputy, with several other changes anticipated.
“We’re trying to give everyone as much game time as we can,” said Cook, who enjoyed plenty of time in the middle when making 119 against India A at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium this week.
“With Belly (Ian Bell) going home as well for the birth of his first child (during the second Test), we’ve got to make sure that the batter who’s going to come in gets some practice as well.
“That is the idea of these next two games, to make sure we get as many people as possible some practice.”
Swann, meanwhile, is retaining a relaxed approach, despite the increased expectation that comes with being a slow bowler on the sub-continent.
“There’s always pressure on the spinner when you play in India, because people assume all the wickets will be big turners,” said the 33-year-old.
“You’ve just got to deal with that in your own way, because we know that a lot of the Test wickets over here are exceptional batting surfaces - at least to start, and then turn later on.
“It’s not a lot different to other places. Often in the first innings you have to take a more defensive role and support the seamers a bit more and then later on in the game, if there is turn and bounce, then of course you come into your own.
“It’s a pressure that’s not alien to a spin bowler; if you’re not used to that, you shouldn’t really be bowling spin.”
Swann, who took two wickets in his first over on Test debut in India four years ago, is just one short of the great Jim Laker’s career tally of 193 Test wickets, the most by any England off-spinner.
“It doesn’t feel anything like four years ago, when I made my Test debut in Chennai,” he said.
“How quickly everything goes once you’re on that treadmill of international cricket.
“I’m really excited about it here, a fond place in my heart for the country where I made my Test debut. I hope these four Tests can provide more memories to go with those first two.”