4th Test: Cook praises Bashir, Hartley's selection after duo put India in trouble

Ranchi, Feb 25 (IANS): Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook has praised the men’s selection panel for the inclusion of Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley after the duo took six wickets between themselves to leave India in trouble at 219/7 and trail by 134 runs at the end of day two’s play in the fourth Test.

Bashir, playing just his second Test, took 4-84 and bowled an unbroken spell of 31 overs to get his first four-wicket haul in red-ball cricket. On the other hand, Hartley scalped 2-47 on a deteriorating pitch to leave India in trouble and England in a commanding position on day two.

“We’ve got to give a huge amount of credit to the selection panel. To pick a guy that had only played four first-class games before going on an England tour. They haven’t tried to fit square pegs in round holes, they’ve gone: 'What do we need? We think we need tall spinners. We’re copying the Indians’ success… Axar Patel bowling it into the wicket. Who are our tall spinners?'.

“They picked Tom Hartley and Bashir, and if you’d have (asked) a lot of cricketers who the spinners were going to be, you wouldn’t have picked those two. Whoever made the big call on selecting both those two should take some credit, because it’s very easy to bash selectors when they get it wrong. But when they get it right, they deserve some credit,” said Cook on TNT Sports.

Cook also believes skipper Ben Stokes had looked after young spinners Bashir and Hartley very well, which in turn has brought out the best out of the duo. "When I was captain in India in 2016, we'd bowl four or five good balls an over and then we'd always let the pressure off with one bad ball."

"Spinners over the last two or three years for England have also had that bit of a trait. Today was the best I've seen England spinners bowl for a long time. "Bashir and Hartley today, I can only remember four or five balls that I thought, 'that's a bit of a pie'.

"We keep mentioning their age, but spin bowling particularly is about learning your trade. It was incredibly impressive from those two. (Stokes) captained them well. We have to be honest, it wasn’t the best shot I’ve ever seen a No. 10 play when you’ve got England’s best-ever batsman at the other end on 120 not out.”

“Stokesy recognised that and straight away he was the first spinner. He could have gone away to the leading wicket-taker in the series, Hartley, but he went straight for Bashir before lunch, as if to say, 'Don’t worry about that shot'. I’m sure there was something about that shot that made Ben do it."

“The reason Bashir bowled a 30-odd-over spell is because he was on the money pretty much every single ball, and the pressure he created against the Indians, who didn’t bat very well. I thought they struggled with the balance of attack and defence, and it’s not often that you say that against the home side not adjusting to the conditions well,” signed off Cook.


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Title: 4th Test: Cook praises Bashir, Hartley's selection after duo put India in trouble

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