England will be up for a stiff test – their sternest in quite a while – when they tour India for a five-Test series starting next month. England, the last team to defeat India in a Test series on their home soil back in 2012, haven’t been able to do it since – they lost in 2016 and again in 2021. But if there is one unit that can really push India, it’s this one under Ben Stokes, thriving in Bazball.
However, former England fast bowler Steve Harmison, while expressing concerns about the team’s preparations, has lashed out at the lack of planning, and shredded the team for going to India undercooked. England’s last Test series was the drawn Ashes back in July and Harmison, in a brutal rant, predicted a 0-5 whitewash for Stokes and Brendon McCullum’s players.
“If England go in three days before, they deserve to get beat 5-0, they really do. I’m an old man. And that’s what they’re going to say: ‘Times have changed, the game has changed.’ But I tell you what, preparation hasn’t changed,” Harmison said.
“You cannot go into India underprepared. [In fact], you cannot go into India over-prepared. You could be in India six weeks before and still not be prepared for that first Test and the emotion of that. To be honest, I love this new approach. I love Ben Stokes, the Brendon McCullum approach, obviously Rob Key, and everything that they have done, ECB have done. But I’m sorry, going in three days before [the India series]. You would never do that for an Ashes Test series.”
Stokes’ sarcastic response
Harmison has a point though. England are reportedly expected to reach India on January 21, four days before the first Test begins on January 25 in Hyderabad. They don’t have any warm-up games lined up either. But while Harmison is busy criticising the management and the board, captain Stokes sarcastically reminded the ex-England pacer about a preparatory camp the team will be undergoing in the UAE.
“Good job we’re going to Abu Dhabi for a training camp before we go to India for even more training before that 1st Test then isn’t it,” he replied to a post by TalkSPORT Cricket’s X handle.
England have called up the uncapped spin duo of Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir, along with fast bowler Gus Atkinson in the squad for the series that will be played across Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Rajkot, Ranchi and Dharamsala. James Anderson will play.