If we didn’t know it before the Sri Lanka series, we certainly do now. England need a frontline spinner if they are to revive their Test fortunes.
Moeen Ali, who produced one of the great England innings in a losing cause at Headingley last week, averaged over 60 with the ball against Sri Lanka and was largely underused by captain Alastair Cook.
An ideal second spin option, Ali needs some assistance against India, who boast some of the finest players of spin bowling in world cricket.
Below are some other names in the frame to make England’s Test squad, announced on Sky Sports News at 3pm on Wednesday. Have your say on the form below…
Adam Riley (Kent)
2014 stats: 10 matches, 40 wickets, 25.42 average
Making a name for himself from Canterbury is Kent off-spinner Adam Riley. His 40 wickets in 10 matches puts him top of the slow bowling wicket table this summer. At just 22-years-old with only 30 first-class matches under his belt it may be deemed too big a risk to throw him in against India’s star-studded batting line-up, however it could be a risk England believe is worth taking. Riley has bowled with great control since bursting on to the scene with Kent and at 6ft, 2in tall, poses problems with his turn and bounce. His form has kept England’s first-choice ODI spinner James Tredwell out of the four-day side and, coached by Min Patel, Riley’s future is in safe hands.
Simon Kerrigan (Lancashire)
11 matches, 26 wickets, 34.50 av
Flogged to all parts on his one and only Test appearance to-date, Lancashire left-arm offie Kerrigan could be in line for a second coming. One man who knows all about his credentials is current England coach Peter Moores, who guided the Red Rose county to Championship glory in 2011, the year Kerrigan made his breakthrough. Adding to Kerrigan’s case is the advantage of a left-armer against an India line-up littered with right-handers, as well as the fourth Test taking place on Old Trafford, a venue Kerrigan knows all too well.
Gareth Batty (Surrey)
7 matches, 26 wickets, 20.07 av
It’s been nine years since Gareth Batty last represented England in Test cricket but perhaps it’s time to go back to an older hand? Batty, now 36, has been in fine form this season, taking 26 wickets (at the time of writing) at an average of around 20. In 200 first-class matches Batty’s economy remains under three runs an over and the Yorkshireman, a tough competitor, could be the ideal man to tie down an end while England’s pace bowlers rotate at the other. Was infamously swept for a single by Brian Lara as the West Indies legend became the first and only man to score 400 in a Test match at St John's, Antingua in 2004.
Scott Borthwick (Durham)
10 matches, 10 wickets, 54.10 av
It was only three Test matches ago that Scott Borthwick was the man in possession following the retirement and then endorsement of Graeme Swann. The Durham leg-spinner enjoyed some success in Sydney, too, taking 4-82 in the match, albeit at an economy of 6.3 runs an over. Like Moeen, his batting appears his main strength and the stark reality that Borthwick has only taken five Division One wickets this season will count against him. Potential to be a future star with the bat, but playing his domestic cricket on seam-friendly pictches at Chester-le-Street could come at the detriment of his bowling.
Monty Panesar (Essex)
10 matches, 26 wickets, 26.76av
While Steven Finn was ‘unselectable’ in Australia, it appears Monty Panesar is on the verge of a similar tag. With 167 Test wickets to his name, Panesar has to be considered, however his off-field antics have prompted Moores to say the left-armer is ‘very difficult to look at as an option’. A nightclub incident resulted in Panesar switching counties from Sussex to Essex last season, however breaches of team discipline have resulted in him being dropped from his new county. In eight matches this season, Panesar has taken 22 wickets, including two five-wicket hauls. Will have fond memories of taking on India having taken 11 wickets in the match in a famous Mumbai win in 2012.