January 30, 2024

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India vs England: Brendon McCullum says punt on Tom Hartley paid off, reveals why they might play their spin quartet in Visakhapatnam | Cricket News

4 min read

England coach Brendon McCullum has admitted that they took a punt on Tom Hartley and it paid off and his team won’t be afraid to paly all their spin quartet in Visakhapatnam if the pitch will give more assists to the spinners.

“Tom Hartley on debut, who has only played a handful of first-class games stepped up with the bowl. It was a punt selection,” McCullum said on SENZ Radio.

“We saw something in him that we thought will work over here. He is a tough character and the way skipper handled him was quite remarkable as well. He obviously bowled us to the Test win.

“There are so many different emotions. Guys have taken a lots of confidence with the Hyderabad win but we also know that it is a long series and we got some work to do. India will bounce back strong but we certainly celebrated last night,” he added.

Tom Hartley didn’t had a great start after he was hit for two sixes on his first two balls on Test debut. Instead of that England captain Ben Stokes gave him an extended spell and that McCullum feels give a massive confidence to the youngster.

Festive offer

“When we picked Tom, people raised their eyebrows but let’s not forget Nathan Lyon only played a handful of first-class cricket averaging 40 odd when he first got picked for the Test team for Australia,” he said.

“When you see guys who are good enough and the conditions will suit them it is like horses for courses. You got to back your judgement on things like that. If you like the skillsets and the character you need to be brave with the selection call as well.

“The way Ben Stokes handled him and bowled him an extended spell regardless of him being put under pressure by the India batters. I thought that was a real sign of leadership and also it was a clear message to those around the squad that you are not going to cast aside or taken off the crease after first sign of the danger.

“It allowed Tom to feel like he belong and he knew where he was wrong in the first innings and came up triumphs. You need to take a little bit of punt and this one paid off.”

With off-spinner Shoaib Bashir joining the squad on Day four of the Hyderabad Test, the England coach also made it clear that they might ended up playing all their four spinners Jack Leach, Tom Hartley, Rehan Ahmed and Shoaib Bashir in the second Test.

“He was obviously with us in the camp in Abu Dhabi and he really impressed with his skill sets. He fits in the group. He again like Tom Hartley has little first-class experience but we thought his skill could help us in here.

“He turned up at a perfect time. The guys gave him a huge cheer and he witness the Test win. He also come to calculation for the next Test match. We won’t be afraid to play all spinners if the wickets will turn more,” he said.

McCullum says he still feel that 246 in the first innings was a good score on that surface and hailed Ollie Pope’s remarkable 196 in the second innings.

“We were pretty calm. We thought 246 was a pretty good score on that surface. I think the wicket was kind of tacky to start. It turned a little bit more and we felt that it slowed up a little bit and batting become a little bit easier. We were content with 240 odd. Few tight calls didn’t go our way, but we kind of hung up there and I thought the attitude was fantastic. We were able to see one of the greatest innings in the sub continent from Ollie Pope. The guys chipped it around him as well,” he said.

When asked how is the feeling around the group after the win, he said: ” It feels really good. We were little bit behind for fair bit the game. The belief never wavered. We have got an skipper, who has got an incredible belief to bind the team together and the unit which believe that they can turn it around from the difficult conditions.

“We were able to overcome a very good Indian side and we got a little bit luck along the way as well and ultimately we achieved as the skipper said the greatest Test triumph under the current regime. We are pleased to 1-0 up in a five-match series.”

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