x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

England captain reveals strategy ahead of India test at Lord's

A four-man England attack faces the bat-heavy Indian line-up but Strauss has belief in the team formation at the start of the series.

Four pacers and an extra bat is ideal, says Andrew Strauss in his book.
Four pacers and an extra bat is ideal, says Andrew Strauss in his book.

Andrew Strauss has delivered a spirited defence of his preference for a four-man attack in his latest book, asserting that research shows England win more matches with an extra batsman than they do with a fifth bowler.

Seven series wins and a creditable draw in South Africa since Strauss took over as captain have justified a strategy that will be tested to the full in the four-Test series against India starting at Lord's on Thursday.

Even without explosive opener Virender Sehwag, who will miss the first two Tests with a shoulder injury, India possess a batting lineup crammed with class, experience and sheer weight of runs.

India field three great batsmen in Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman with an excellent support cast including Gautam Gambhir and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, their two heroes in the World Cup final triumph over Sri Lanka in April.

If England are to take the official world No 1 ranking from India, they need to win the series by at least a two-match margin. The responsibility for capturing the necessary 20 wickets in a match twice will fall to James Anderson, Chris Tremlett, Graeme Swann and, in all likelihood, Stuart Broad.

Anderson came of age last year, deploying seam movement and reversing the old ball in addition to his whippy late swing. Swann, one behind Anderson in third place on the world rankings, is the world's best slow bowler, a naturally aggressive off-spinner who gives the ball a ferocious tweak but who can also play a containing role.

Tremlett's pace and bounce have made him an automatic choice since he forced his way back into the side in Australia and the choice for the remaining bowling spot at Lord's lies between Broad and Tim Bresnan.

Broad, the national Twenty20 captain, was left out of the England side for the final one-day game against Sri Lanka and a county match for Nottinghamshire against Somerset proved, in effect, a Test trial.

Watched closely by national selector Geoff Miller, Broad took five for 95 in Somerset's first innings which was enough to retain a place in the Test squad and all indications are that he will be in the final XI.

"There were signs he was getting back to where he was," said Miller. "We know what he is capable of doing and when he puts on that England shirt we feel sure he will show exactly that and produce the goods and make if difficult for India."

Broad's pedigree is undoubted and he won the Ashes back for England at the Oval two years ago with a splendid spell including four for eight in 21 balls.

But his bowling average after 107 wickets from 37 Tests has crept over 36 and he took only eight wickets in three Tests against Sri Lanka.

Broad still looks likely to win selection ahead of the reliable Bresnan because of his height and ability to extract nasty bounce, as he showed when he ruffled the Indian batsmen during the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup.

Strauss, who scored an unbeaten century in the second innings against India playing as a guest for Somerset at the weekend, made a point of emphasising that Broad's role was not just to bounce his opponents.

"Occasionally the situation dictates that you want to go short on a particular batsman and he is our best bowler at doing that, but that is not his role in the side," said Strauss. "It never has been.

"His role is not fundamentally any different from Anderson or Tremlett — which is to build up pressure."

The Somerset match was India's sole outing in English conditions before Lord's and the Indians are also slow starters with each of their three defeats in the past three years coming in the opening Test.

Consequently Lord's, if the present foul English weather allows, could be an ideal opportunity for the home side to take an early series lead but only if they show against the best batting lineup in the world the discipline and accuracy they displayed in Australia.

 

FACTBOX

The first Test will be the 2,000th ever staged and the 100th between the two countries. England have won 34 matches, India 19 and 46 have been drawn.

England will overtake India as the world's No 1 side if they win the series by a margin of at least two Tests,

India's Sachin Tendulkar needs one century to become the first man to score 100 international hundreds.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni led his side to victory in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 and the 50-overs World Cup this year. He has taken India to number one in the world Test rankings for the first time and never lost a series.

Former Zimbabwe captain Duncan Fletcher, the England coach during their 2005 Ashes triumph and now with India, will become the first head coach to take charge for 100 Tests.

Highest innings totals.
For England in England; 653-4 declared at Lord's, 1990.
England in India; 652-7 declared at Madras, 1984-5.
For India in England; 664 at the Oval, 2007.
India in India; 591 at Bombay, 1992-3.

Highest individual scores
England, 333 Graham Gooch at Lord's, 1990
India, 224 Vinod Kambli at Bombay, 1992-3

Best bowling.
England, Fred Trueman 8-31 at Manchester 1952
India, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar 8-79 at Delhi 1972-3