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India v England

The forgotten men of England’s 2016 tour of India

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

How well do you remember England’s last Test tour of India?

The visit, which came at the back-end of 2016, began strongly. In the first Test at Rajkot, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Alastair Cook all hit centuries as England fell just four wickets short of victory.

But the hosts bounced back in dominant style, winning the next four Tests to ensure there would be no repeat of the famous 2-1 series win pulled off by Alastair Cook’s men in 2012.

Four Englishmen who played in that series haven’t been seen at Test level since, with all four possessing stories of intrigue. Ahead of England’s four-match Test series in India, beginning on February 5, we though it worth to revisit their tales.

Haseeb Hameed

Aged just 19, Hameed entered the series on the back of an excellent season with Lancashire, his 16 first-class matches that summer returning 1,198 runs at an average of 49.91. The Bolton teenager looked immediately at home at Test cricket, too: partnering Cook at the top of the order, he hit 82 on debut in a 180-run partnership with the England captain. In his third Test, he made a battling half-century with a broken finger, an injury that ruled him out of the rest of the series. It appeared that England had a gem on their hands.

But upon returning to Lancashire, Hameed endured a dramatic decline in form. In 2018, he averaged 9.44 with the bat in red-ball cricket, and he was released by his home county at the end of the 2019 season.

Nottinghamshire came calling, and Hameed has since enjoyed a resurgence at Trent Bridge. After averaging 38.85 in the Bob Willis Trophy, he earned a contract extension last December, admitting that “cricket is fun again”.

Ben Duckett

The PCA Players’ Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year for his performances at Northants in the summer of 2016, Duckett made his Test debut in Bangladesh weeks prior to the start of the India series, opening the batting with Cook. While he made a 64-ball 56 in his last innings of that series, Duckett dropped into the middle order for the first couple of Tests against India.

But Ravichandran Ashwin accounted for him in all three of his innings that series: “I actually think the conditions in Bangladesh were far tougher than in India but I got worked over by one of the best spinners the game has ever seen,” Duckett told Wisden.com last year. Since his Test stint, Duckett’s only international action has been a T20I against Pakistan in 2019.

Like Hameed, a move to Notts – which came about in 2018 – has been of benefit. In 2020, Duckett hit two centuries in the Bob Willis Trophy and sealed victory with the bat at Finals Day in the T20 Blast. He was also briefly part of England’s white-ball bubble last summer ahead of a three-match ODI series against Ireland, but failed to make the final squad.

Gareth Batty

Eleven years on from his last Test appearance, Surrey off-spinner Batty was summoned for a subcontinental winter, marking his return by taking the new ball at Chattogram and taking four wickets in a 22-run win over Bangladesh. Nonetheless, he featured just once against India, coming into the side at Mohali in the third Test. The 39-year-old went wicketless as India cruised to an eight-wicket victory.

Returning to county cricket, Batty was given a player-coach role at Surrey in 2018 and took 10 wickets at 19.20 in the 2020 T20 Blast, captaining his side to a runners-up finish at the age of 42.

Zafar Ansari

A left-arm spin-bowling all-rounder, Ansari made his Test debut in the second Test against Bangladesh and kept his place for the first two Tests against India. His best performance came at Rajkot, where a first-innings 32 was followed up with three wickets in the match. A back injury, however, put an end to his series, with Liam Dawson called up in his place.

Just months later Ansari, who has a Master’s degree in History, announced his retirement from cricket at the age of 25, citing “other ambitions that I want to fulfil”. Writing in the 2018 Wisden Almanack, Ansari added: “Both through design and accident, I had never reconciled myself to life as a professional cricketer. Throughout my career, retirement was almost perpetually imminent.”

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