Revamp backroom too

When England were 8/3 at the start of their 41-run chase at the Eden Gardens, Alastair Cook must have felt a mild echo of events at Abu Dhabi 10 months ago. Then, chasing 145, they had been bowled out by Pakistan's spinners for 72 to go behind 0-2 in the series.

On Sunday, after England had wrapped up victory without any further wobbles, Cook harked back to Abu Dhabi.

"The first thing was realisation of the problem, about playing spin," he said. "(It) probably was not as big as made out, but all of us as a batting unit had to take a look at our technique, and work out a method that suits each individual player."

The results took a while coming. The third Test was lost, as was England's first Test in Sri Lanka. They drew the series, but seemed to have reverted to type when they began their India tour with a big defeat in Ahmedabad. But now, England are 2-1 up and most of their batsmen have found a way to cope with spin. Their spinners, moreover, have outbowled the Indians.

England's support staff has played a massive role in this turnaround. Coincidentally or otherwise, their backroom is full of men who did very well in the subcontinent Andy Flower, Graham Gooch, Mushtaq Ahmed, even Graham Thorpe, who coaches the batsmen in the ECB's academy team.

It's hard to say with certainty that India have a backroom similarly suited to their needs. On the surface, Duncan Fletcher fits the bill to coach a batting side in transition. He has few equals in sorting out batting technique, and has a keen eye for spotting talent. But with no real say in selection, he has no need to watch domestic matches and find the equivalents of Marcus Trescothick or Michael Vaughan, whom he fast-tracked into international cricket despite mediocre first-class numbers. Joe Dawes could still prove to be a good fast bowling coach, but he isn't the best man to work with a young group of spinners.

... contd.

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