No value of County Cricket in the eyes of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum claims Michael Atherton on Shoaib Bashir’s debut


Former England cricketer turned commentator and expert analyst Michael Atherton was delighted to see 20-year-old off-spinner Shoaib Bashir receiving his debut Test cap for England against India in the 2nd of a 5-match Test series at Vishakhapatnam’s ACA-VDCA cricket stadium.

Shoaib Bashir replaced England’s most experienced spinner in the squad Jack Leach who picked up just 2 wickets across innings at Hyderabad where the visitors registered an emphatic comeback victory by 28 runs to gain a 1-0 lead. The series has pretty much started off the way it did during England’s previous tour here in 2021.

The Three Lions who were under the captaincy of Joe Root 3 years ago, went on to lose the 4-match series by 3-1. This time around there is a genuine hope that they can overthrow India’s dominance in home conditions which has seen them remain unbeaten in every red-ball series here since 2012.

England’s 2012 team under Alastair Cook was the last team to produce a result in their favor in India as they had clinched the 4-match series by 2-1. And with the way the series has started, England are expected to do something similar and only their own mistakes can keep them away from doing so.

Michael Atherton while speaking to Sky Sports Cricket stated that the current England management led by Brendon McCullum have made very good selections of their playing XI and called it the best English side he has ever watched. 

“I can’t think of a more remarkable selection in my time watching the England team. England have taken lots of punts on leg-spinners – Chris Schofield, Scott Borthwick, Mason Crane, Rehan Ahmed – but regulation finger spinners have usually got into the team after showing a fair amount in county cricket.” – Atherton said. 

The 55-year-old further praised the English management for their approach to player selection based on conditions at a particular venue instead of just blindly trusting a player based on their first-class record.

“Rather than getting county averages out and picking the best 11 players, they are saying, ‘What are the conditions we are playing and what gives us the best chance?’ They start from that and work backward, finding guys that fit the bill.” – Atherton added. 

Michael Atherton Likens Shoaib Bashir To Teammate Tom Hartley And Former Spinner Monty Panesar

Michael Atherton remembered the time when he watched youngster Shoaib Bashir practicing in the nets and quickly drew the similarity he has with former left-arm off-spinner Monty Panesar who was a part of the 2012 English team. Atherton believes that Bashir has a lot in common with Panesar in terms of having big fingers that help in giving the ball a perfect release for the turn.

Atherton also sees similarities between Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir, claiming the latter has an extra inch in terms of height that is very suitable in Indian spinning tracks.

“What they like about Bashir is that he is not too dissimilar to Tom Hartley. They have taken the view that spinners that have been successful in India have been tall, drive the ball into the surface, and bowl very quickly. I watched Bashir in the nets and he probably has an inch on Hartley. He has big, long fingers – Monty Panesar-type fingers. Panesar was a bowler who could wrap his fingers around the ball and give it a rip and Bashir has got that as well.” – Atherton concluded. 

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