It’s something old, something new for England in the second Test against India after Ben Stokes named his team on Thursday, 24 hours after the toss. Jimmy Anderson and the unused Shoaib Bashir attack in Visakhapatnam, while Mark Wood and the injured Jack Leach step aside.
After taking a second look at the surface of the ACA-VDCA cricket stadium, Stokes believes the balance that led to a 1-0 lead in Hyderabad remains the way to go. Not that the two changes made by England captain and head coach Brendon McCullum are mere swaps: Anderson’s play replaces Wood’s pace, and Bashir, a right-arm off-spinner, turns it into the different direction to his Somerset teammate Leach.
Bashir, 20, is the youngest member of the youth ranks, born 114 days after Anderson, 41, made his Test debut in May 2003. This is due to his late arrival on tour – a visa complication that saw him land on the morning of England’s fourth day victory in the first Test – but Stokes has no qualms about this immediate promotion. “There is no worry for me and no problem with him being out of the group for a while and then coming back to make his debut,” he said. “It’s not like he’s forgotten how to bowl.”
This recall for Anderson makes it the 22nd consecutive year of Test cricket for England’s record wicket-takers and a chance to approach 700 victims in the longest format. He is 10 away from a mark surpassed only by Shane Warne (708) and Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and his hunger still seems to burn bright despite a low-key Ashes summer.
Stokes said: “Bringing Jimmy’s experience and the class he has is great and what also goes under the radar is how good his record is in India (34 wickets at an average of 29, economy rate of 2.65 runs per over ). Considering what Jimmy is known for – “the swing king” and all – it just proves how good a bowler he is.
“He has different skills that I can utilize in Indian conditions. This applies not only to the new ball, but also to the other things he owns. A lot of people should look up to Jimmy considering he’s where he is at 41 years old.”
The loss of Leach to a knee injury makes Anderson, despite his 183 caps, a green frontline spin attack beyond Joe Root, who now plays as an all-rounder. Rehan Ahmed is two tests to the good and Tom Hartley is one. But the 6ft 2in Bashir, who is the 99th England player since Anderson arrived at Lord’s all those years ago, will certainly have the support of his captain.
Stokes said: “What he has is the natural ability in how he releases the ball and how much energy he tries to put on the ball. “Someone who releases the ball from a height and puts that much on the ball will achieve this natural variation. It’s very hard to compete against that out here.
“Some balls slide, others continue to slide. I’m fully behind him and looking forward to him getting on the field and hopefully putting on a good show.”
England: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Shoaib Bashir, Jimmy Anderson.