Spinner Shoaib Bashir handed shock England call-up for India tour
Rookie spinner Shoaib Bashir has been handed a shock call-up for England’s new year Test tour of India, just six months after making his first-class debut for Somerset.
The 20-year-old off-spinner has made just six senior red-ball appearances, taking 10 wickets at an average of 67, but earned a spot on a recent England Lions training camp in the United Arab Emirates and impressed enough to be fast-tracked into the main squad.
Bashir is one of three uncapped players in a 16-strong group, though Lancashire’s left-arm spinner Tom Hartley and Surrey quick Gus Atkinson have represented their country in white-ball cricket and were fancied to make the trip.
Bashir represents a much bolder choice, having only broken into Somerset’s LV= Insurance County Championship side for the first time in June.
Speaking to the Somerset website just a matter of weeks ago, he suggested his had not even expected to be involved with the Lions this winter.
“When I got the call, I was very surprised,” he said.
“I’m very grateful to get this opportunity and I’m excited to get started. I’m just going to keep working hard, learning and making the most of opportunities like this.”
England’s selection panel, headed by director of cricket Rob Key, made a similar call this time last year when they drafted teenager Rehan Ahmed for the tour of Pakistan. He went on to become the country’s youngest male Test cricketer at just 18 and took five wickets on debut in Karachi.
Fresh from an encouraging ODI series in the Caribbean, leg-spinner Ahmed returns to the Test squad as part of a slow-bowling group led by Jack Leach. Leach is fit again after a stress fracture of the back saw him miss last summer’s Ashes series.
The experienced left-armer Liam Dawson, who had been tipped for a potential recall after an impressive season for Hampshire, was not included. Both he and talented Surrey all-rounder Will Jacks missed out on the recent batch of central contracts and have pursued franchise contracts over the winter.
England begin the first of five games against India in Hyderabad on January 25 following a training week in the UAE. Ben Stokes is hoping to be fit to lead the side but is currently in rehabilitation having undergone surgery on his longstanding left knee injury.
Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes travels despite losing the gloves to Jonny Bairstow against Australia and could be a strong candidate to break back into the first choice XI given the importance of the role in the sub-continent.
With Stuart Broad retired, there are four fast bowlers chosen: James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood and Atkinson.
England squad for Test tour of India: B Stokes (c), R Ahmed, J Anderson, G Atkinson, J Bairstow (wkt), S Bashir, H Brook, Z Crawley, B Duckett, B Foakes (wkt), T Hartley, J Leach, O Pope, O Robinson, J Root, M Wood.
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