England touched down in India yesterday hoping the return of Simon Jones's swing will make up for their lack of proven spin options in the forthcoming Test series. Jones, who missed the series defeat in Pakistan before Christmas after failing to recover from an ankle operation, has already acclimatised this month at Dennis Lillee's pace academy in Chennai.
Although he has only 18 Test caps, Jones, 27, is viewed as an essential cog in England's attack due to his ability to move the new and old ball. "His absence was very important for us," said England coach Duncan Fletcher about Jones missing the Pakistan tour. "Over there - and to some degree here - skiddy bowlers are effective. Jones's strength is he bowls quickly, skids the ball and gets swing."
While in India, Jones has been trying the SG balls used solely in India at Test level. "He got it to swing conventionally from when it was new and when he roughed some balls up, he got it to reverse swing," Fletcher said. "At least the balls here will help the seamers to some degree."
England were accused of using their spinners negatively the last time they were here, in 2001, but their captain, Michael Vaughan, yesterday refused to be drawn on his employment of spinners in the coming weeks. "We will have to wait and see, but Ashley Giles had Sachin Tendulkar stumped for the first time in Test cricket so [bowling a leg-stump line] can't have been such a negative tactic," Vaughan said. "We will wait on the conditions, how our bowlers are bowling and how they are playing but we are not set on one tactic."
While England were acclimatising yesterday, Tendulkar hit 95 to lead India to a five-wicket win over Pakistan in the third one-day international in Lahore. Pakistan's 288 for 8 included Shoaib Malik's fifth one-day hundred, but India lead the five-match series 2-1.