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Kevin Pietersen: England’s spinners, not Bazball, will be the key to success in India

Kevin Pietersen on Bazball
by Naman Agarwal 4 minute read

Kevin Pietersen feels that more than England’s Bazball approach with the bat, it’s how their spinners bowl that will dictate their performance in the Test series against India in early 2024.

England are scheduled to head over to India for a highly-anticipated five-match Test series that will be played from January to March 2024. That will mark India’s third and England’s second series in the 2023-2025 World Test Championship cycle.

The last time England visited India for a Test series was in 2020/21, where they won the first Test in Chennai before succumbing to three consecutive defeats to lose the series 3-1.


The next tour will be England’s first Test series in India under captain Ben Stokes (provided he’s fit and available) and coach Brendon McCullum. Under these two, England have played an ultra-aggressive brand of Test cricket, better known as ‘Bazball’.

Winning Test matches in India has been exceedingly difficult for visiting teams in the last decade or so. India have not lost a Test series at home in a decade, and have lost only three since 1986/87. England’s Bazball approach is expected to produce a different sort of challenge for the home team. However, Pietersen believes that Bazball is unlikely to be the defining factor for England in the Test series.

Speaking to Wisden.com, Pietersen said: “Well, I don’t know (how Bazball will play in India), because it’s not going to be about the Bazball approach. I played Bazball and I was very successful here.”

Pietersen referred to his aggressive batting that had brought him success in Tests in India. From nine Tests in this country, he scored 703 runs – the fifth-most for England – at an average of 43.93 and a strike rate of 60. No other English batter scored more runs at a quicker rate in Tests in India. In fact, among all visiting batters with 700 runs in Tests in India, his strike rate is still the fifth-highest.

Despite the focus being on Bazball and attacking batting, Pietersen feels that England’s spinners will play a bigger role in the upcoming Test series in India. “It’s about how England’s spinners perform. When we came here, we beat India in India in 2012. Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann were the guys that turned the needle for us.”

England are still the last team to win a Test series in India. They did so during their 2012/13 tour, where, after losing the first Test, they came back strongly to win the next two and take home the series 2-1.

As Pietersen mentioned, Swann and Panesar played key roles in that victory. Swann took 20 wickets from four games at 24.75 runs apiece, while Panesar took 17 from three games at 26.82.

England are a bit short on quality spinners, as was evident during the 2023 Ashes, where they recalled Moeen Ali out of retirement after first-choice spinner Jack Leach was ruled out. Moeen promptly announced his retirement from Test cricket after the series.

During England’s last tour to India in 2020/21, Leach was the pick of their bowlers, picking 18 wickets from four Tests at 28.72. He will be expected to lead their spin attack once again, with potential backups being Rehan Ahmed, Will Jacks, and Liam Dawson.

Pietersen reiterated the importance of England’s spinners putting up a good show and said that batting isn’t necessarily as tough in India as recent results might make it seem.

“It’s how England’s spinners bowl. Don’t worry about Bazball. I’m sure they’ll get their runs because it’s the most beautiful place to bat. In the first innings, it’s a great place to bat. If they get enough runs, [it’s] all about how the spinners bowl.”

Pietersen spoke to Wisden.com on the sidelines at the Legends League Cricket, the final leg of which is being currently played in Surat, India. Playing for the India Capitals, Pietersen has managed 113 runs from four games at a strike rate of 167 and will be seen in action in the Qualifier 2 today (December 7).

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