England batting coach Graham Thorpe believes clear thinking is needed as his side try to get to grips with the challenge of facing India’s Kuldeep Yadav.
Left-arm wrist spinners such as Kuldeep are rare at all levels of cricket and even more so in the international game.
England’s unfamiliarity was all to evident as Kuldeep took a stunning 6/25 as India cantered to an eight-wicket win in the first one-day international at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
Kuldeep was instrumental as England being were bowled out for 268 – once a challenging score in this format but now well below the “par” score of 300.
It certainly never looked enough to extend a strong India batting line-up, with Rohit Sharma’s 137 not out setting the seal on a dominant win as Virat Kohli’s men went 1-0 up in this three-match series.
England, top of a world ODI rankings table where India are currently second, don’t have long to lick their wounds with the second ODI at Lord’s on Saturday.
“India are a very good measure of where we are at,” former England batsman Thorpe said. “The one thing about [Kuldeep] playing is that you start to formulate plans. The more you face the trajectory, the flight, the speed of the ball, they’re the things you pick up on.
“You’ve also got to set up as a player against it: your method, your footwork, your position on the crease,” explained the 48-year-old Thorpe, who played exactly 100 Tests.
‘Shut us down’
“You have to react quite quickly, especially in one-day cricket when you’re always looking for opportunities to score.
“He shut us down and you have to give him credit. It’s up to us and our players to keep an open mind, accept it’s happened, but we’ve got to turn it around pretty quickly as we are playing again on Saturday,” added Thorpe of a bowler mentored in the Indian Premier League by former Australia left-arm wrist-spinner Brad Hogg.
For this series, 2019 World Cup hosts England are without Alex Hales after the in-form opener suffered a side injury
Hales’s absence has compounded the problem created by the struggles of Joe Root.
The Test captain was dropped by England for the first time in nearly five years for last Sunday’s T20 defeat at Bristol, a result that gave India a 2-1 win in that series.
Root has made just one fifty in his last 10 innings, but Thorpe believes it’s simply a matter of time before Root is back in the runs.
“He’s been a massive run scorer for England in all formats,” said Thrope.
“He’s hitting the ball very well in the nets. All top batsmen go through this. It’s probably the first time in his international career where he hasn’t spent as much time at the crease.”
He added: “In terms of how he is as a bloke, he’s the same guy in the dressing room. He’s practising the same way. He probably just needs one knock in the middle.”