Spin woes are mental: Prior
Ahmedabad, Nov 17: That England batsmen have problems playing spin bowling, is a subject widely discussed all over the cricketing fraternity. Before they came to India, it was expected that they would be challenged by the Indian spinners. But their batting performance in the first innings of the first Test was a far cry from what they’re capable of, despite their relative weakness against slow bowlers.
There are various theories doing rounds over the last year of where the actual problem lies. There are some who believe the England batsmen, who have grown up facing pacers on tracks conducive to seam and swing, are technically unequipped to handle spin on the subcontinent pitches. But Matt Prior, who scored 49 of England’s 191 runs in the first innings, feels the problems are more mental than technical.
“A lot of it is mental,” Prior told bcci.tv. “It is exactly the same as India coming to England in April when the ball is swinging around all over, they have their own mental battles. When you’re brought up playing your cricket in one way, it’s very difficult to then try and adjust to a completely different way of playing. This is our challenge.”
Admittedly, India had the best of batting conditions on Day 1 and Day 2, and their spinners Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin made the most of the conditions when England came in to bat. But what also contributed to the visitors’ batting collapse was their shot selection. Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen – arguably their two best bats against spin – got out to shots they wouldn’t want to watch the replays of. “There were a few poor shots and our batsmen have to put their hands up there,” Prior said. “But we now have to think of building on from this platform set by our openers.
Their first-innings disaster had left England way behind in the game, trailing by 219 after following on with two more days to go in the Test. Despite their vulnerable position, if there is a positive to be drawn, it is that, their batting display in the second innings is much better than the first essay.
“We had to learn pretty quickly. It was a pretty disastrous first innings and after that it is pleasing for us to walk off in a position that we are. Yes, we’re still a long way behind the game, but we’ll keep fighting,” Prior said.
Even at 111/0 at the end of Day 3, England will have to gather all their mental, physical and technical strength to win that fight.