Spinners dominated the recently concluded Test series between India and England with Ravichandran Ashwin the standout performer with the ball as he picked up the man-of-the-series award. The veteran offspinner picked 32 wickets at 14.71 including three five-wicket hauls. Fellow spinner and teammate Axar Patel finished with 27 wickets at an unreal average of 10.59 including four five-wicket hauls having played a game less than Ashwin.

For England too the top-wicket taker of the four-match series, that India won 3-1, was left-arm orthodox Jack Leach with 18 wickets at 28.72. These basic statistics alone prove how significant was the role of the spinners during the series with the hosts clearly dominating their English counterparts.

It was their one-sided domination of the tweakers that irked several former England cricketers with the likes of Michael Vaughan taking a sarcastic jibe at the pitch prepared for the 2nd Test, a day-night contest, which ended inside two days. Several called for more sporting pitches, criticising the nature of tracks laid out for the Tests.

However, the likes of Sunil Gavaskar were passionate in their defense of the pitches. Their argument was Indian batters face similar challenges when touring overseas (in seam-friendly conditions) and that they never complaint.

Gavaskar even advised to not listen to the ‘experts’ taking a shot at the spin-friendly wickets.

However, that did give rise to an age-old debate of spin-friendly vs pace-friendly pitches. Should India continue to prepare tracks that are conducive to their strength? (in this case – spin).

Considering the rise of Indian pace-battery in recent time, has the time come to change the practice and dish out pitches that will help in the further development of our pacers? The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav are capable of taking wickets in all conditions but shouldn’t India help their cause when they play at home? Will that not further encourage the upcoming generation to take fast bowling?

Home Advantage

It’s a fact that every team tries to take the full advantage of home conditions. The pitches in England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have traditionally been more hospitable to pacers. In the subcontinental conditions, spinners rule the roost. And traditionally, spin has been India’s biggest strength when it comes to bowling so it seems unfair to suggest that they should ditch exploiting that advantage in lieu of more sporting tracks.

Technical Deficiency

One may criticise the pitches but the fact that England batsmen were found to be wanting against spinners isn’t to be ignored either. Likewise India, other teams also play to their strength including England as the conditions their support seamers. The likes of Ravichandran Ashwin (century in 2nd Test), Rohit Sharma (scored fifty in pink-ball Test) and Rishabh Pant (century in 4th Test) scored runs in challenging conditions proving the surfaces on offer weren’t unplayable. It all boiled down to technique and application.

Teams across the world will surely benefit if they start replicating conditions in their domestic tournaments to better prepare their players when they play overseas. That goes for India as well.