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India v England 2024

Who is Shoaib Bashir, and why have England picked him for the India Tests?

Why have England picked Shoaib Bashir
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Twenty-year-old off-spinner Shoaib Bashir is the wildcard name in England’s 16-player Test squad for their tour of India – here’s all you need to know about the twirler, and why England have picked him.

England will take four frontline spinners with them to India, with Jack Leach returning from a stress fracture in his back, and Rehan Ahmed also recalled as the two frontliners. Beyond them, England have gone to uncapped options for the series, with Tom Hartley selected alongside Bashir.

Having only signed his first professional contract before the 2023 domestic season, Bashir has limited experience. He’s taken 10 wickets in his six first-class appearances so far at an average of 67.00, with 18 county appearances in total across the summer. He made waves on his County Championship debut when he beat Alastair Cook’s outside edge twice in his first over.


Bashir signed for Somerset after playing age group cricket for Surrey, but was let go when he was 17. He also played for Middlesex and Berkshire before impressing for Somerset’s second XI to make his breakthrough. He was selected for an England Lions training tour to the UAE earlier this winter and took six wickets in a match against Afghanistan A. Hartley, Ahmed, Jack Carson, Josh de Caires and Calum Parkinson were the other spinners selected for that trip.

The biggest surprise to come from Bashir’s selection is Liam Dawson’s non-selection. Dawson picked up 49 wickets for Hampshire in the County Championship this season and also scored three centuries. Given his Test experience and form over Bashir’s inexperience, on the face of it, the decision looks an odd one.

Speaking on what influenced their spin selection, Rob Key said: “We saw him last summer and every now and again you just catch a glimpse of a couple of balls where you think, ‘hang on, there’s something different there’ or ‘that looks special’. So we saw him in county cricket, we saw the way the way that he bowled the ball, then you see the potential and then you try and find out a little bit about his character.

“Then we had him on the Lions [tour]. Myself and Brendon [McCullum, England head coach] flew out to that Lions camp for about a week and a bit, and we tried to put them in conditions that are similar to what we’re going to see [in India]. Someone like Bashir, you think his ceiling is really high. Life’s always about how good someone’s ‘good’ is not how bad their ‘bad’ is. He’s very raw. He’s going for experience as much as anything else, albeit we won’t be afraid to play him if required. I think that this is the start of his journey where we’ll see, hopefully, a world-class spinner in the future.”

From Key’s comments, it’s pretty clear that Bashir will be England’s fourth-choice spinner in India. While that doesn’t mean he won’t play any of the five Tests, it means he more than likely won’t play all, or even most of them. In regards to Dawson’s non-selection, Dawson has previously stated that his SA20 deal would be a factor in whether he would accept an England call up for the India tour. Key clarified today that “Liam Dawson is probably not someone who wants to go round India as the 15th or 16th man”.

Key also spoke of the type of spinner England want for Indian conditions. While on the tour to Pakistan last year England selected Will Jacks and Liam Livingstone as two of their spin options, they have opted for specialists over all rounders this time. This is because pitches in India are less likely to be batting tracks than they were in Pakistan, and will likely require more depth in their spin options.

Bashir is a tall right-armer – standing at 6 ft 4 in, with a high release point. He sends the ball down faster than most of England’s other options, with Hartley being a similar-type of bowler. On what could be a challenging and long tour for England, it’s still a significant gamble to take on someone so inexperienced.

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