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India vs England 2nd Test at Lord’s: Do England need Simon Kerrigan?

Simon Kerrigan had a disastrous Test debut against Australia at The Oval © Getty Images
Simon Kerrigan had a disastrous Test debut against Australia at The Oval © Getty Images

England announced the inclusion of left-arm spinner, Simon Kerrigan for the second Test match at Lord’s. However, the youngster had a horror debut last year. Shiamak Unwalla looks at whether England really need a spinner like Kerrigan.

With the retirement of Graeme Swann and the sidelining of Monty Panesar, the current English spin cupboard is rather bare. A team that boasts of Moeen Ali and Joe Root as its leading spinners cannot quite boast about their spinners at all.

Before the start of India’s tour of England, if one were to ask a common Indian fan about which bowlers India would have to be wary of in England, chances are the responses would be along the lines of James Anderson, Liam Plunkett and Stuart Broad.

One name that would absolutely not come to mind is Simon Kerrigan. In fact, unless someone has followed English cricket very closely in recent times, the name Kerrigan would probably not ring any bells at all. There is a reason for that: Kerrigan has bowled a total of 48 deliveries in international cricket, conceding 53 runs.

Kerrigan’s nightmarish debut came against Australia in the fifth match of the 2013 Ashes in England. After four matches of dominance, Australia finally found some form in the final match, with Shane Watson and Steve Smith scoring blazing centuries. Kerrigan was perhaps a tad unlucky to make his debut in the match, where Watson finally found some form.

Conversely, it could be that Kerrigan’s presence in the attack allowed Watson to get some quick runs, thereby turning the tide. In any case, Kerrigan was unable to make much of an impact against a side that was low on confidence, and that typically does not play spin well.

What will happen if he comes up against a side that can play spin blindfolded; a side wherein even the No 11 batsman got an unbeaten half-century?

India have usually done well against English spinners. Even Graeme Swann at the height of his powers could not quite run through them. With 41 wickets in 10 Tests, Swann’s figures against India are reasonably good without being terrific.

In such a scenario, perhaps stacking the side with pacers — especially if the pacers can score 81 runs batting at No 11 — is not a bad idea. When India last toured England in 2011, Broad and Anderson ripped apart the batting. Perhaps adding Chris Jordan and Plunkett to the mix might make sense, with Moeen and Root performing the back-up roles when needed.

Kerrigan’s record in First-Class cricket is quite impressive; 213 wickets in 67 games at an average of under 28 and a strike rate of 59 makes for impressive viewing. However, in the current season, he has managed just 28 wickets in 12 matches. That, combined with his already forgettable debut a year ago prompted former England skipper Michael Vaughan to caution against using Kerrigan for the second Test.

As Vaughan said, if Kerrigan takes another pasting at the hands of the Indians, his confidence could be shattered and he may not recover from that for a long time. But more than anything else, playing a spinner who might not work wonders against India at the cost of a seamer is not the wisest idea. England perhaps do not need Kerrigan against this Indian side. If he does play, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli could emulate Watson and Smith.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)

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