EPP shine in India
England fast bowling coach Kevin Shine was struck by the contrasting elements of the England Performance Programme’s successful tour of India.
Shine, who once bowled fast for Hampshire and Middlesex before retiring in his early 30s to concentrate on coaching, was head coach on the recent EPP trip to the sub-continent which also included Yorkshire coach Martyn Moxon and Warwickshire’s director of cricket Ashley Giles.
The players were based at Loughborough University for the first half of their winter schedule before decamping to India during November and December.
Shine told ecb.co.uk: “It was an interesting type of tour - the two weeks in Mohali were purely trying to prepare them for the fact that any one of them could be called out to play for England - that was the whole emphasis of the time there.
“Then obviously we went to Chennai and had a couple of matches against first-class cricketers from India and Sri Lanka.
“When you do go to India you do play in more spin-friendly conditions but we were at the MRF pace foundation for the second part of the tour, so the wickets usually have a bit of pace and bounce in them, but on the whole we found the wickets to be very flat - especially the one used for the four-day match.
“This did allow James Tredwell and Adil Rashid to get a long bowl and the England batters were never short of spin bowlers in the nets - we had 15 plus bowlers every time we had a net session - and most of them were spinners.
“Normally if you have a small group of seamers with you when you are on tour you have to be very careful with how much work they get through in the nets, but because there were reams of bowlers it was great and the batters had plenty of opportunity.
“Martyn Moxon did a great job specifically working with the batters and the spinners had Ashley Giles on hand and he proved to be an excellent coach. I think he will make a very fine coach.”
The England side won both their fixtures during the second half of the tour, the first won by scoring more in the first-innings against a MRF XI, and the second by 111 runs against the same side.
Somerset’s James Hildreth scored 136 off 130 balls in the first match and followed it up with 63, while Hampshire’s Michael Carberry compiled 134 during the second game while Jonathan Trott registered scores of 114 and 82, during his time in India.
Durham seamer Graham Onions bowled with tenacity on a very flat wicket during the last match to claim 4-37 but the tour was about more than just competitive cricket.
The squad were joined by Kent seamer Amjad Khan, who is fighting his way back to fitness following a prolonged absence because of a knee injury that has put him out of the game for more than a year.
Shine expanded: “I am really pleased with how Amjad is coming on - obviously he was specifically out there to rehab and he worked incredible hard with Craig Ranson and the other physios.
“We finished with him bowling off a half-run for eight overs - that is a big step for him seeing that is the first time he has had a ball in his hand for a while.
“By the end of the two weeks out there we probably had him up to about 60 per cent and the really encouraging thing about him is that he did not get any pain and all the skills seem intact, because if you have not bowled for a year you could forget what you are supposed to do."
The England Lions squad to India which begins at the end of January is a target for many of the members of the EPP but it has come too soon for Amjad.
“He is not in the frame for the Lions tour,” Shine stated.
“He has worked really hard so we will give him a rest over the Christmas period and then reprogram him in the new year which will probably involve him coming out to Chennai with me to the MRF pace bowling clinic at some time.
“Then we are looking to get him ready for the season but it is a really tough call. We are not trying to rush that one but we are very positive about the future.”
Shine confirmed that the Lions squad will be announced in the near future.
“I am just waiting for a meeting with David Graveney, Geoff Miller and Peter Moores (the England selectors), so that announcement is probably imminent,” he said.