England opts for 20-year-old Shoaib Bashir for the Test series against India

England opts for 20-year-old Shoaib Bashir for the Test series against India

England includes 20-year-old Shoaib Bashir in the squad for the upcoming Test series against India. The 16-man squad for the early 2024 series also features uncapped limited-overs players Tom Hartley and Gus Atkinson. Ben Stokes, who underwent knee surgery last month, is named captain but may not bowl. Ben Foakes returns after being dropped for the Ashes, and Jack Leach and Ollie Pope make a comeback following back and shoulder injuries during the English summer.

Rehan Ahmed, who impressed with seven wickets on his Test debut in Karachi last year, is among the four specialist spin options, alongside Leach, Hartley, and Bashir. Chris Woakes is not included, with James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, Atkinson, and Mark Wood as the frontline seamers.

Shoaib Bashir’s selection is notable as he made his professional debut in June, playing only six first-class matches. However, his standout performance as the best spinner for England Lions in a recent training camp in the UAE, where he claimed 6 for 42 against Afghanistan’s A team, caught the selectors’ attention.

Rob Key, England’s director of cricket, highlighted Bashir’s natural attributes and encouraged looking beyond his modest first-class figures. Key emphasized creating an environment led by Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes to bring out the best in Bashir.

Key stated, “We focus more on the style of cricket we want to play and what we think will win. The question is, ‘What’s someone’s upside?’ English cricket spinners are challenging to assess solely by their statistics. In county cricket, you don’t expect your spinner to average 24 with the ball; you want to see their character.”

He further emphasized the art of selection over science and the importance of creating an environment where players can thrive, particularly on an Indian Test tour.

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