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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Kuldeep should play ahead of Ashwin, Jadeja in England Tests, says Swann

Kuldeep should play ahead of Ashwin, Jadeja in England Tests, says Swann

July 20, 2018 14:41 IST

'If I were blessed with a wrist spinner to pick, I would always personally put a wrist spinner in.'

Kuldeep Yadav

IMAGE: Kuldeep Yadav picked up 14 wickets in five matches during the limited-overs' leg, including three ODIs and three T20Is. Photograph: Julian Herbert/Getty Images

Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann foresees a strong Indian showing in next month's Test series against the hosts if the ball fails to swing, the chances of which are high due to a warmer-than-usual summer in the United Kingdom.

India lost the ODI series 1-2, giving England the bragging rights ahead of the five-match Test rubber starting August 1 in Birmingham but Swann believes things might just change for the better for the visitors in the longest format.

 

"If the ball doesn't swing, England will have to rely on reverse swing later on. Jimmy (James Anderson) is not the same bowler with the older ball because by the time it starts reverse swinging, Kohli will be 60-70 not out," Swann said.

"England did well last time because Jimmy had the new ball swinging. It's just not Indians who don't do well against swing. Every batsman in the world doesn't like it when the ball swings around especially when Anderson is bowling," he said.

"If it swings, England will win the Test series easily but if it doesn't, and I don't think it will, I think it will be a brilliant series. England don't have a great spin attack in the Test series, so again India hold all the aces in that department too," he said.

Speaking of spinners, Swann said Kuldeep Yadav should play in the Tests ahead of either Ravichandran Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja. However, he also warned against over-exposing the left-arm wrist spinner, who picked up 14 wickets in five matches during the limited-overs' leg, inclusive of three ODIs and three T20Is.

"If I was an Indian, I would desperately want him to play in the Tests because he does provide mystery and the English batsmen cannot pick his googly. He also bowls a good length and went for just 20-odd on a beautiful batting wicket at Nottingham. He doesn't give the batsmen enough opportunity to see the ball off pitch, and can hit a perfect length and pace," Swann said.

"If India use him wisely, he could be a massive bowler for them this summer, particularly if it continues to stay dry. This is where some caution is needed. He has bowled well, but he has also come up against two very poor teams against wrist spin in South Africa and England.

"So, my advice would be to not get carried away and put too much pressure on Kuldeep that he has to perform and do well always, which I thought happened in the latter half of the ODI series," he added.

Swann said that if India decides to play just one spinner, they should give a serious though to Kuldeep ahead of Ashwin and Jadeja.

"It is a tough call. But I would want to look and say 'whom do England want to face? When playing in India, that answer would be Ashwin and Jadeja a hundred percent, and they would be my first two names on the sheet. In England, are they still the first two names?

"You look at their records from the past and what they bring to the team. You don't have to play both of them, you can play just one. If I were blessed with a wrist spinner to pick, I would always personally put a wrist spinner in," he said.

The other key contest during the Tests will be the renewed battle between Virat Kohli and James Anderson. The Indian skipper endured a woeful England tour in 2014, while the English pacer is now on the recovery path for the five-match series.

Swann said Kohli would be eager to right the wrongs from his last trip.

"He (Kohli) is probably embarrassed by the last tour here because he is such a good player and that was not the Virat Kohli we know. He probably wants to right that wrong. And it is in his favour at the moment because the ball is not swinging.

"The hot weather we have been having, it is unseasonal, and there is no moisture around in the air or in the ground. That makes the ball swing in England and it has not been swinging," said Swann.

Looking back at the ODI and T20I series, the former international said that these two are the best sides in this format at the moment.

"England still have got some glaring weaknesses against spin and they were highlighted there. It was same for India, who thought England will be a walkover after the first ODI. Lord's was a bit of wake up call for India as well.

"(But) I don't think it (England winning ODIs) will have much impact (on the Test series) to be honest because the England Test team is so different. Instead, that will play into India's hands to be honest because 80 percent of the batsmen haven't played against Kuldeep yet," he added.

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