India is at a Disadvantage by Preparing Spin-Friendly Pitches Early On: Nick Knight

Former England opening batter Nick Knight believes that India is playing into the hands of England's spinners by preparing turning pitches from day one.

India is at a Disadvantage by Preparing Spin-Friendly Pitches Early On: Nick Knight
Dillip Mohanty

Written by: Dillip Mohanty

(Sports Editor)

Reviewed by: Umaima Saeed

(Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2024-02-14

5 minutes read

England defeated India in 2012

England is the only team to win a Test series in India in the past 20 years. England won the 2012 four Test match series 2-1 under the captaincy of Sir Alastair Cook. One of the striking factors of that series win was the England spinners spearheaded by two spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar outperformed their Indian counterparts playing in their backyard.

The current five-match Test series is currently tied at 1-1 after two matches. Interestingly this time too, England sinners consisting of two debutants have out-performed the Indian spinners.

Former England batsman and current cricket commentator Nick Knight, in an exclusive interview with SportsBoom.com, questions India’s strategy of preparing turning pitches and at the same time highlights England’s clever spin bowlers selection.

Nick Knight highlights the complexities of playing spin in Indian conditions. He emphasised the challenge posed not just by dramatic turn and bounce, but the natural variations. England, recognising this, strategically selected taller bowlers like Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir to take advantage of the greater variation caused by their height.

England Squad in India 2012 Test Series.jpeg

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“The really tough bit for me playing spin in India wasn't the fact that the ball turned and bounced dramatically. It was the fact that the natural variation, some balls would turn a bit, some balls would turn dramatically”

Nick Knight on playing spin bowling in India

England's clever spin selection 

Clearly, spin is India’s strength in Indian conditions. You sometimes though have to put into the pot what the opponent's strengths and weaknesses are. I played in India enough to realise the really tough bit for me playing spin in India wasn't the fact that the ball turned and bounced dramatically. It was the fact that the natural variation, some balls would turn a bit, some balls would turn dramatically. That's what's really hard because you can't set yourself as a batter to line up any particular ball because some will perform slightly differently.

England have been really smart and they've worked out that if you are delivering from six foot four then that exaggeration is greater. That variation is greater than if you're bowling at a lower height because the balls won't react as much off the pitch by its nature. It'll skid on more and therefore it's easier to cover the spin. It's more difficult for a batter to cover the extremity of the extra bounce or the extra movement if it's coming from a height of six foot four. So that is where England have been really clever. They've tried to pick the type of spinners that might thrive in these Indian conditions, said Knight.

Tom Hartley England Spinner.jpeg

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"If you've got guys who have hardly played in these conditions and you are giving them that opportunity to get something from the surface from day one, is that to India's advantage or is it to England's advantage?"

Nick Knight questions India's pitch strategy

Knight believes this approach is clever, as it makes it harder for batters to adapt to varying deliveries. He thinks that England's tactics could prove advantageous, especially for inexperienced bowlers making their debut in India. In contrast, he suggests that a flat surface could favour India's seasoned spinners.

So my point is though, if you've got guys who have hardly played in these conditions and you are giving them that opportunity to get something from the surface from day one, is that to India's advantage or is it to England's advantage, questions Knight.

I would say that's an England advantage. From India's perspective, I'd like to see a pitch that needs to just get the game set up and then get your spinners into the game when it's really turning. I would think that's probably a fair way for India to try and approach the game, said Knight.

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"The environment that Stokes and McCullum and the team are providing that you can thrive off, that you can jump on the back of and say, do you know what a great time to be making a test match debut?"

Nick Knight belives its the best time to play for England

Best time to make a debut for England

Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes Bazball.jpeg

Speaking on England’s current Bazball regime led by captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, Nick Knight contrasts his nervous Test match debut with the current scenario, highlighting the positive and confident environment within the England team.

I remember when I went to bed the night before my Test match debut. I was absolutely petrified. I was thinking about all the things that could go wrong, all the things that are not going to happen. But anyone who is making his debut for England now is going to bed thinking of all the things that can happen, thinking of a fifer or a match-turning innings. He's thinking of changing the game for his side because that's the environment that he's now in. It is that sort of confidence that the environment that Stokes and McCullum and the team are providing that you can thrive off, that you can jump on the back of and say, do you know what a great time to be making a test match debut, said Knight.

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Dillip Mohanty

Dillip Mohanty

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.

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