Gooch excited by India challenge
Batting coach Graham Gooch has billed England’s forthcoming four-Test series against India as “one of the greatest challenges” in the sport.
Alastair Cook and his men face Haryana in their final warm-up match tomorrow before they attempt to become the first England side in 28 years to win a series in India.
Rather than being daunted by the prospect of bucking the recent trend, Gooch admits he is relishing the prospect of seeing two of cricket’s heavyweights go head-to-head in the five-day arena.
“I think coming to India is one of the greatest challenges,” he said.
“It’s a wonderful place to play cricket. The cricketers are treated like film stars or gods over here.”
England have drawn their two tour matches so far but Gooch has been impressed by what he’s seen in the meetings with India A and Mumbai A.
“Our build-up has gone to plan. People have got runs, there’s been some wickets,” he added.
“Some of our players have learned a little bit in the couple of weeks we’ve been here.”
While spin duo Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha are expected to provide a stern challenge for England’s batsmen in exacting subcontinent conditions, Gooch has warned the tourists not to develop a fixation with the pair.
“We’re not majoring on spin, as in that’s the only type of bowling we’re going to face,” he said.
“They’ve got two very good opening bowlers, two out of three - either (Umesh) Yadav, Zaheer Khan, (Ishant) Sharma as well.
“It’s a great challenge. What a life to come out here and put yourself up against some of the great players of world cricket - the likes of Harbhajan (Singh), (Sachin) Tendulkar, (Virender) Sehwag and (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni.
“These are household names of world cricket.”
A 4-0 series whitewash over India may have moved England top of the Test rankings last summer, but Gooch knows the touring party cannot afford to underestimate Dhoni's team on home soil.
“We know India are a top side in their own country,” Gooch conceded.
“Not long ago they were rated number one, and you don’t do that without putting on consistent performances.
“We’ve come here to win the series; we’ve not come here to make up the numbers.”