Three New Names in England Test Squad for India: Shoaib Bashir, Tom Hartley, and Gus Atkinson Make the Cut

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Shoaib Bashir, the 20-year-old Somerset offspinner with 10 wickets in his first-class career, has been named in England’s 16-man squad to tour India for a five-match Test series in early 2024. He is one of three uncapped players included along with left-arm spinner Tom Hartley and fast bowler Gus Atkinson, who have both represented England in limited-overs cricket. England’s captain Ben Stokes, who underwent surgery on his left knee last month, is included in the squad as expected, though will not be fit to.

But it is Bashir’s inclusion that stands out. He made his professional debut in June after signing a professional contract with Somerset and has played only six first-class matches, but was the outstanding spinner on England Lions’ recent training camp in the UAE, taking match figures of 6 for 42 in a three-day fixture against Afghanistan’s A team. Rob Key, England’s director of cricket, said that Bashir’s natural attributes, including a high release point, had encouraged the selectors to look beyond his modest first-class figures, and added that the upbeat environment fostered by Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes would help bring out the very best in his abilities. Hartley has a modest first-class record for Lancashire, with 40 career wickets at 36.57. But England believe that he also possesses attributes – he is 6ft 4in, and regularly bowls at speeds of 60mph/97kph or more – which will make him well-suited to replicate the role that Axar Patel has performed in Indian conditions. With Stokes unlikely to bowl a ball – “we never had him down to be bowling in India,” Key said – England will have difficult decisions to make over.

Throughout the tour, Chris Woakes, Dan Lawrence, Liam Dawson, and Will Jacks will also be making notable omissions. The England squad will travel to the UAE for a preparatory camp in mid-January and will arrive in India shortly before the first Test in Hyderabad on January 25. An England Lions squad, which is yet to be named, will also travel to India to shadow the main tour.

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