Shoaib Bashir to debut, James Anderson recalled for second Test against India


Shoaib Bashir, the 20-year-old Somerset offspinner, will make his Test debut at Visakhapatnam on Friday, after being named as Jack Leach’s replacement in England’s XI.

Bashir linked up with the squad midway through their 28-run victory in Hyderabad last week, after suffering complications with his India visa, but will slot straight into the team as a replacement for Leach, whose impact in that match was hindered by bruising to the left knee, sustained while fielding on the first day.

Ben Stokes, England’s captain, confirmed one other change on the eve of the Test, with James Anderson returning to the team as the lone seamer, in place of Mark Wood, who went wicketless in the same role at Hyderabad.

It will be Anderson’s 184th Test cap, and his first of 2024, and will complete one of the most lop-sided Test attacks ever fielded, with the rest of England’s specialist bowlers in a spin-heavy attack boasting a total of three Test caps.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Stokes said he was confident that Bashir’s complicated passage to India would not impact on his performance, adding that his chance to sit in the dressing-room during the latter stages of the Hyderabad Test had allowed Bashir to assimilate with the team environment.

“He was just taking it all in to be honest, landing [from the UK] that early, then coming in and seeing what had gone on,” Stokes said. “I think he really enjoyed being in that dressing-room [on day four]. There’s no worries and no issues for me that he’s been away from the group for a period of time, then coming back in to make his debut. It’s not like he’s forgotten how to bowl.”

Stokes added that it had been left to Brendon McCullum, England’s head coach, to break the selection news to Bashir. “I went up to him [afterwards],” Stokes said. “I knew that he knew, and he just gave me a big hug. I told him I was going to tell the media so he didn’t have to keep it quiet. He looked very excited.”

Rehan Ahmed, the legspinner, retains his place after a limited role in Hyderabad, having debuted in Karachi in December 2022, while Tom Hartley will receive his second cap, having claimed second-innings figures of 7 for 62 to seal England’s first-Test victory.

Neither Rehan nor Bashir was born when Anderson made his Test debut at Lord’s in May 2003, while his own Test cap number – 613 – is a full 100 caps shy of the 713 cap that Bashir will receive before the start of play on Friday. At the age of 41, Anderson is about to enter his 22nd year as an international cricketer, but Stokes had no qualms about bringing him back into the fray.

“Jimmy’s experience, the class that he has, is great and I think it also goes under the radar how good his record in India is,” Stokes said. “Considering what Jimmy is known for – ‘the swing king’ and all that – it just proves how good a bowler he is. He has different skillsets that I will be able to exploit in Indian conditions.

“It’s not just picking Jimmy for the new ball, it’s the other stuff he possesses as well. It’s great that Jimmy is doing good things for the old boys out there. It’s huge credit and lots of people should look up to Jimmy considering he is where he is at 41.”

On the Vizag pitch itself, Stokes predicted that it might be a good wicket for “maybe a day or two”, but expected it to take more and more spin the deeper the game gets.

“It might play a little bit better initially than it did last week, but we don’t like to go in with too many pre-conceived ideas, we like to have some kind of idea because, obviously, that’s how we pick the team. Then we just play what’s in front of us.

“I think we always knew what we wanted. We looked at the pitch yesterday and again today just to see what change would happen after a day. If anything it just looks a little drier than yesterday.

“Obviously the forced change, Bash coming in for Leachy, was a simple one: one spinner out, one spinner in.”

England XI 1 Zak Crawley, 2 Ben Duckett, 3 Ollie Pope, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes (capt), 7 Ben Foakes (wk), 8 Rehan Ahmed, 9 Tom Hartley, 10 Shoaib Bashir, 11 James Anderson.

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