Darren Gough: Why I’m backing England to edge series with India

India's Mohammed Shami: Has the pace to test England.
India's Mohammed Shami: Has the pace to test England.
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I HAVE never understood why touring teams, when they go abroad, pick a Test squad and it is has to stay the same over the course of a full tour except for injuries.

India have named an 18-man squad because of injuries and some players not being available for the first Test against England, which starts next week.

But they have named a squad for the first three Tests only and then will make changes. That is the way forward for me.

When England went to Australia last winter, why did they name the squad for the whole tour?

Why did they not say that this is the squad they have picked for the first two Tests. If you are losing 2-0, then you are not putting yourself in a position where you cannot drop anyone.

India are doing what every team should be doing. With how easy it is to travel around now and A tours going off left, right and centre and training camps in Dubai and stuff, you now have no need to pick one squad to go away for 16 weeks now. You can change it.

India's Virat Kohli hits out against England. (Picture: SWpix.com)

India's Virat Kohli hits out against England. (Picture: SWpix.com)

India are in England now and they can make as many changes to their squad now from Test to Test. What is the difference if you go away? Why cannot you do that if you go abroad? It is exactly the same. With the climate now and money in the game, it is not going to matter.

India are doing what all teams should be doing – picking a squad for the first three Tests and if it is not working out, they will make big changes.

India have got a good side, although they have had a few niggles.

Jasprit Bumrah, who has got an awkward action but has come onto the scene, is not available for the first Test with a thumb injury, but he will be difficult to face in England.

India are doing what all teams should be doing – picking a squad for the first three Tests and if it is not working out, they will make big changes.

Darren Gough

They also have Bhuvneshwar Kumar – a good English-type bowler – who is also not going to be available and he will also be a big loss. Their wicketkeeper, Wriddhiman Saha, is also injured.

They may have a few injuries, but when you look at their batting line-up, it can be scary. They have got Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, KL Rahu, Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair, who are all fantastic players.

They also have Cheteshwar Pujara, although his stint at Yorkshire has probably put him at the back of the queue. Originally, I thought they had a three-way battle for the opening slot between Rahu, Dhawan and Vijay. But because Pujara has had a poor run, I think they might not play him and put in Rahu at three.

With their bowling, the tourists have got Mohammed Shami, who has come back after an injury after failing the Yo-Yo fitness test before the Afghanistan game. He is a strong bowler who can bowl up to 90 miles an hour the odd time.

They also have Ishant Sharma, who had a spell with Sussex. He has got a lot of experience and is mainly used as a Test performer. Umesh Yadav is ‘skiddy’ and my type of bowler; like a Simon Jones or a Mark Wood.

Then, there’s Shardul Thakur, who is uncapped at Test level. But he is decent and it is probably as good a seam attack as India have had for a while.

They have also kept in Kuldeep Yadav, their ‘Chinaman’ bowler, and I think he will be a handful in Test cricket; although I think Joe Root might have worked him out in getting to the pitch of the ball rather than sitting back.

Then, there’s Hardik Pandya who is the all-rounder, with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as the two spinners.

Those two spinners have bowled England out many a time, especially in India where they shine.

They are a very strong team and the good weather looks like going in their favour.

For England now, it is a case of how do we go? Does Moeen Ali come back into the reckoning as the second spinner who can bat? There’s also Dom Bess and Jack Leach and there’s an issue as to whether Nick Gubbins has done enough to displace Keaton Jennings after just one game back.

Looking at Alastair Cook, he showed he is in fine form with an unbeaten century for the England Lions. There’s also the issue as to whether Chris Woakes gets into the Test team with Ben Stokes available for the first Test before his court case.

I am looking forward to the series. I think it is going to be spicy throughout. It should be close and India have not won in England since 2007.

I think I am still backing England, to be fair. India are carrying too many injuries and players coming back from injuries.

Their batting will be strong, but I think on their bowling front, they might have had too many injuries. The workload of their cricketers over their last 12 months – which has been huge –- might just go against them.

It’s a hectic schedule as well and we have got a bigger selection of bowlers, maybe. We can choose between seven seam bowlers, really, with James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Stokes as your top three.

Then there’s Woakes, Jake Ball, Craig Overton and Wood. You could go on and on; there’s Tom and Sam Curran.

Over a three-Test series, I would have India as favourites as if they got their noses in front, they would be hard to catch with the batting they have got.

But over a five-Test series, I am just going to edge with England.