No spinner in India A squad

England’s tour of India this year starts with a warmup match against the India A side on the 30th. The Indian squad for this match was revealed today and although it is a strong side, it surprisingly does not contain a spinner. This seems like a fairly straightforward ploy by India to stop England from practising against spin ahead of the Tests, but despite some strong criticism elsewhere I don’t actually have a problem with it.

England actually have three warmup matches, plus a training camp in Dubai where their annus horribilis began ten months ago. There is little chance that they will be deprived of any chance to practise against spin in that time. I expect, in fact, that they will focus on it in Dubai and then should get plenty of practice against Mumbai A and whoever their opponents are in the last warmup game (which is still to be announced). Whilst I don’t doubt that this is part of a ploy from India, I don’t see it as particularly unfair either. They are still sending out a strong side; they are not simply making a mockery of the warmup and if they think it is worth not getting a look at their own reserve spinners in exchange for England not getting to either then it makes perfect sense not to play a spinner. I actually think that they may be hurting themselves more than England with this move, however. Now their spinner will go into the Tests a bit cold and they won’t have a good idea of how well their backups will get on. In addition, the England batsmen will have a chance to get some runs under their belts and get their confidence up before facing the sterner task of the spinners in the subsequent warmups.

But even if that does not prove to be the case, I see nothing wrong with India fielding whatever side they think gives them the best chance. As long as they are not making a mockery of it by sending out a fifth Xi, and they are not, it seems perfectly fair.

3 thoughts on “No spinner in India A squad

  1. Matt,

    You forget that India has 2 rounds of the Ranji Trophy before the first test commences on Nov 15. Between the NZ series, World T20 and now the Champions Trophy ( intermixed with the Irani and Duleep Trophies), the Indians are getting enough and more game time.

    For me, the most telling factor with the India A team is the plethora of left hand batsmen. With Swann’s diminishing effectiveness against left handed batsmen, and given that the men picked are stroke players, the cat and mouse games have already begun.

    Finally, with the Ranji games on, I wonder what opposition the English will face in their remaining 2 games. Mumbai will be playing, as will Gujrat, so I wont be at all surprised if the English face a make up side of second XI’s and hangers on.


    1. A few things: first I don’t know why you have addressed me as ‘Matt’, but you do so in error. Second, I did not at all forget that the Ranji Trophy will start before the Test series, but I do not regard that as a near-substitute for even an international warmup. The problem is not that they will not have enough playing time, it is that they will not be assessed in red ball cricket against high-quality opposition. (And the pyjama nonsense does not even vaguely count.)

      Thirdly: I’m not sure which Graeme Swann you have been watching, but the one who plays for England has only had a diminished effect against left handers insofar as his previous numbers were so good that his very, very good ones from this year are slightly worse. If India consider it something of note then they have clearly been too obsessed with the IPL to notice actual cricket.

      Fourthly, England are actually scheduled to play Mumbai A, not Mumbai, in the second warmup. So it will be a second XI by definition, but that is hardly a surprise. Domestic sides never field their first XI for warmup matches. The point is that it is still more likely than not to contain a spinner which means that England will see some spin before the first Test.


      1. Brandon,
        Apologies for Matt – I am not sure sure how or why that got in there :). Second, Given the volume of cricket that has been played since the season began and in the lead up to the Test series, India will get enough and more game time. It is England that is coming in from the cold, having played no cricket at all for over a month. Third, I saw the India England series from last year and South Africa’s tour to England this year and his lack of success ( against right and left hand batsmen) was noteworthy. I found it intriguing that the India A side had so many left handed batting options. Finally, I doubt the Mumbai second Xi will play England since the game runs parallel to the Mumbai Ranji game. So while England may see some spin, I am not sure of the quality – I would venture to suggest that the quality of spin they see against India A will be the highest they see, before the Test series begins.



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