Former England captain Michael Vaughan has termed BCCI’s decision to not play even a single spinner in its ‘A’ side, due to take on England in a warm-up, a “pathetic tactic.”
“India to play no spinners against England in the A team warm-up game ... if that’s what the game has come to???? Pathetic tactics,” Vaughan tweeted, after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) named the squad to be led by Suresh Raina for the practice game to be played in Mumbai from October 30.
“I don’t think its (sic) in the Spirit of game. Prepare wickets which suit your team (spinning tracks) that should be enough… Poor form!!! India’s tactics are terrible for the game... It’s taking home advantage to a new level... Other teams might follow.”
Cricket writer Dileep Premachandran has countered by saying: “India have a settled spin attack in Test cricket, but plenty of questions about a pace line-up. Surely, Vaughan did not expect India's selection panel to aid their cause while ignoring their own problems?”
If indeed it is a conscious decision and a tactic, then it can be argued that on both counts India reserve the right to field an XI which they feel will help in getting their combination right before the first Test which starts in Ahmedabad on November 15.
And even if for a moment it is assumed that the BCCI’s ‘tactic’ is designed to deprive England of the much-needed spin practice before the Test series, did Vaughan expect Ravichandra Ashwin or Pragyan Ojha to bowl at Alastair Cook’s men in the nets?
India has a serious problem when it comes to fast-bowling, and even with plenty of options who can roll their arm over, there’s hardly a spear-head, a role which Zaheer Khan was fulfilling before becoming injury-prone in the last few years.
On the flipside, if the move is a deliberate attempt by BCCI at half-baking England’s preparations in the lead up to the Test series, it may set a precedent where host boards field weaker sides for warm-up matches.
That is a long shot, though, as most boards and even local associations want their best to be on display, so as to increase the chances of their newer, ‘unseen’ prospects making the cut.
Another former England player David Lloyd, who is also very active on Twitter, backed Vaughan’s criticism. “No spinner in India A team vs England....totally lacking in class and style decision,” he tweeted.
England captain Alastair Cook, however, is looking at things differently and was unworried by the perceived tactic.
“Anyone who has been there (to India) before knows there are a lot of net bowlers available to us and we can bat as long as we want against them and there are a lot of spinners we can face,” he said.
“We know what we have to do as a side in terms of playing spin from our experience earlier in the UAE (against Pakistan and Sri Lanka). We know we did not play spin very well at the start of the series in the UAE and we know we have got to start well in India and we are prepared to put the work in to do that,” added Cook as the English team prepares to leave for the tour of India.
If Vaughan’s concerns are legitimate, does the ICC have something new to look into? More importantly, though, have the English quarters already written off their chances against spin without a ball being bowled?