The swashbuckling opener Zak Crawley said England’s upcoming tour to India in January -March 2024 presents them with an ‘amazing opportunity’ to showcase ‘Bazball’ but adapting to conditions will be the key. India will host England in a five-match Test series next year, and talks are already on about whether the latter would be able to follow their aggressive brand of cricket on Indian pitches. The series, for the Anthony de Mello Trophy, gets underway in Hyderabad with the first Test scheduled from January 25-29, the second Test is at Visakhapatnam (February 2-6), the third at Rajkot (February 15-19), the fourth at Ranchi (February 23-27) and the fifth and final Test at Dharamsala (March 7-11).
“I don’t really know much about their grounds,” Crawley was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo after the conclusion of the Ashes series against Australia.
Among the five venues, the last time Hyderabad and Rajkot hosted a Test was in 2018, while Ranchi and Visakhapatnam last played hosts in 2019.
The conditions could be new and challenging for India at Dharamsala too, since the venue has hosted only one Test in the past — against Australia in 2017.
“Sometimes in India it seams and swings a bit — and they’ve got unbelievable seamers — so hopefully there are a couple of pitches there that are like that as well, that will suit us a bit more,” he said.
With the World Cup 2023 being the biggest cricket draw in the second half of this year, England’s Test cricketers will get an extended break before their next assignment in India.
India will restart their long-form assignments against South Africa in December with the Boxing Day Test. “I can’t remember having six months off (between Tests) before,” Crawley said.
Crawley made 480 runs with a hundred and two fifties at an average of 53.33 in the Ashes and his strike-rate was a stunning 88.72.
In fact, he was the highest run-getter for England in the series, and second highest overall behind Australia’s Usman Khawaja.
Now, he wanted to take Bazball to India.
“I’ll tick off a bit of T20 and hopefully a bit of white-ball stuff somewhere, but then (getting) back into it in India will be an amazing opportunity for our team to see how we go in those conditions,” he said.
“But if it’s spinning…I feel like we play spin really well as well. We’ll just have to adapt, see what we get. But they are pretty unknown grounds — I don’t know if they’re going to be raggers like Ahmedabad and Chennai, where we were last time,” he added.
England, who is having a successful run with the Bazball approach, last won a Test series in India in 2011-12 and since then have only one win to show from subsequent tours in 2016-17 and 2020-21.
In February 2021, Joe Root-powered England handed India a 227-run defeat in Chennai on a pitch that did not suit the home team bowlers, but the hosts then came firing back in the remaining three Tests to take the series 3-1. PTI India will host England in a five-match Test series next year, and talks are already on about whether the latter would be able to follow their aggressive brand of cricket on Indian pitches.
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