India only have one warm-up game before Tests commence
India's star-studded batting, says former West Indies bowling ace Ian Bishop, will need to deliver against England's variety of pace and spin in the upcoming Test series. By arrangement with Quba Media Works.
It has all the makings of a mouth-watering prospect; India taking on England!
What is good about this series is that India, at some point in the series, will have all their senior players who missed the West Indies tour back on board. Those players include Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambir, Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh and, later on, Virender Sehwag.
One issue for India that concerns me is that they have only one warm-up game before the series starts. It does not matter that it is the way of modern touring, because English conditions are quite unique, and, therefore, that type of preparation is less than ideal.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar
Rest for India's top players could be a double-edged sword
It was a good thing for the abovementioned players to get some rest after a hectic year, but that can sometimes be a double-edged sword. As the body gets older it can take a while longer to get into its best grove for some.
I remember observing this about my good friend Curtly Ambrose many years ago. It's not that Curtly would ever lose his accuracy, as that was ingrained in him, and his bowling action could be repeated time and again with his eyes closed. But it took him a while to start hitting the wicketkeeper's gloves hard again once he started back. Fortunately, there was ample time back then.
Image: Ian Bishop
England should come hard at India in first Test
Batsmen can also suffer from this, though, in 2005, I witnessed Brian Lara make a magnificent century (196) at the Queens Park Oval, South Africa, after he had not played a first class match for months.
In doing so, I believe that the first Test will go a long way to the momentum of the series and its outcome. If India get through unscathed, they will be hard to beat, as it will mean their seniors will have had more time to acclimatise.
England coach Andy Flower knows the value of adequate preparation; it showed, as England was extremely proactive in how they prepared for the last Ashes series. England should come hard at India in the first Test and target particularly those who have been short of work.
Image: Andy Flower
England has more variety in bowling than India
The coaching input could be interesting as well. Duncan Fletcher has been an excellent coach for England previously, and Andy Flower has taken that to a new level. It may be hard to gauge their effect, but it will be telling anyway.
England's variety of pace and spin should be the stronger bowling attack of the two teams, and that is where India's star-studded batting will have to step up big again. Fortunately, 75 per cent of the Indian line-up was hard at work in the Caribbean.
Image: Graeme Swann
Good test for Ishant in helpful conditions
I am very interested to see how Ishant Sharma goes after his success in the Caribbean. He will have tougher opposition to contest with. I still feel he will need to be more patient and flexible in his bowling. His length will need to be consistently fuller, as he can sometimes be a touch short in length.
But it will be a good test for him in helpful conditions, and will be a good indicator of his growth.
By arrangement with Quba Media Works.
Image: Ishant Sharma