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Test of nerve: England arrive to the buzz of spin

cricket Updated: Oct 30, 2012 11:02 IST
Anand Sachar
Anand Sachar
Hindustan Times
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When England's new Test skipper Alastair Cook and coach Andy Flower walked in for the arrival press conference, nervous smiles were a constant feature.

After all, it is 27 years since England last won a Test series in India, and the prospect of taking guard on rank turners is brightening.

And their best player of spin, Kevin Pietersen, was a last minute inclusion in the side after the acrimony preceding that finally died down.

If there was any doubt about what has been England's undoing in India over the years, all of that would have been cleared minutes into the conference, as most of the discussion surrounded one subject - the ability of the English batsmen to tackle quality spin bowling.


Settling down
That fact was not lost on Cook. The 27-year-old opener said how quickly his team gets used to Indian conditions could decide the mood of the team when they head home for the Christmas break at the end of December.

"History suggests how tough it's to win here," said Cook. "It is almost 30 years since an English side last won here. We know of the challenge that lies ahead. We are excited about it. We know it's not going to be easy, but as players we put ourselves in that position and would love to test ourselves in the mightiest conditions."

While the Indian camp has been vocal in its demand for pitches that turn square, Cook stuck to the kind of response that is standard for teams that have just landed and are wary of jumping into conclusions.

"We cannot control the kind of wickets that will be served to us. Both teams have world class players. The team that adapts to the conditions better will be the one that will come out on top."

Spin work
But England will have plenty to adapt to. Against Pakistan in UAE in early 2012, they were dismantled by spin. But Cook said: "We've done a lot of work over the last 12 months, especially since what transpired in the UAE."

In fact, before England landed here on Monday, they had a two-day camp in Dubai and the focus was on tackling spinners on turning wickets. "Yes, there was a focus on playing spinners in Dubai," said Flower.