David Gower ventured his opinions on various facets of the English cricket team ahead of the one-off Test versus India at Edgbaston starting Friday. The legendary batsman was all praise for the leadership duo of Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, as he gears up to commentate from the studio in Mumbai.
Having swept the reigning World Test champions New Zealand 3-0 in the recently concluded series, England look like a side reborn. David Gower believes at the heart of their recent success is some bold captaincy by Ben Stokes, reared on by the imperious motivation skills of head coach Brendon McCullum.
David Gower Speaks Up On England’s Test Resurgence
The changes at the helm have seen the likes of veteran pacers James Anderson and Stuart Broad return as regular members of the playing XI, much to David Gower’s satisfaction. Under Joe Root’s captaincy, the pace attack was often left wondering about the rotational tactics. Extended rest periods had become the norm despite the players claiming they are ready to play.
“I was speaking to a colleague in the UK and telling him I am in Mumbai and it’s raining all day and then I looked up the forecast at Edgbaston and it’s not so dry there too for the first couple of days. It’s not like Mumbai monsoons, but it will be damp,” he reveals with a smile, almost putting cold water on India’s plans, if any, of playing with both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for the one-off Test.
“I have a feeling, they will play only Jadeja,” he quickly says.
David Gower’s smile acquires added lustre when he speaks about England’s Test resurgence.
“The combination of McCullum and Stokes has clearly changed something,” he says and marvels at Brendon McCullum’s man-management skills.
“When McCullum’s appointment was announced, people were wondering what his qualifications were. They are now apparent. He has a gift of getting into people’s heads and making them feel better,” he stresses.
David Gower also attributes new skipper Ben Stokes’ approach and a return to common sense selection as the reason for England’s recent success.
“Without taking Joe Root to court, he is a different type of captain to Stokes. Stokes has a bulletproof approach to cricket. He will make mistakes, but so far most of his moves have seemed to be the right ones.”
“With regards to selection, when we have a world that is heading back to normal, and all your resources are available, then my view is as straightforward as McCullum’s. Pick your best side for each game. This idea of playing a couple of games and being rested even when there is nothing wrong doesn’t make sense,” he says hinting at the flawed strategy employed by the earlier regime of Joe Root and Chris Silverwood, which hurt England.
David Gower On Indian Team Having Talent Among Reserves: One Should Be Wary Of The Reserves
David Gower quickly turns his attention to India and while experts feel illness and injury to key players and generous rust in their games may stop them from performing optimally, he warns that the reserve players have a lot of skill.
“If you are England, you will hope to take advantage,” he says. “But if you look at this Indian squad, there is a lot of talent among the reserves. Look at the way they played in Australia. One should be wary of reserves because they have the talent and the spirit to make the most of it.”
Having been involved in a series involving one-off Tests, David Gower talks about how it affects mindsets.
“It’s never perfect,” he stresses with a pregnant pause and says he would have loved it for the series to have been completed the year before. “Had they managed to play this game 10 months ago, you had a perfect situation where if India either drew or won at Manchester, they could win the series and if England won, they could have squared it.”
The Test at Edgbaston will be a one-off match, having been touted as the fifth Test of the incomplete series in 2021. India currently leads the hosts 2-1, after the final match was postponed last year owing to a COVID-19 breakout.
England captain Ben Stokes won the toss and elected to bowl against India in the rescheduled fifth Test. With skipper Rohit Sharma ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19, Jasprit Bumrah will be India’s 36th Test captain. Shubman Gill is the only specialist opener while Shardul Thakur as seamer all-rounder has been preferred over veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.