When England last toured India, they had two world class spinners in Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar. Even though Alastair Cook committed a blunder by not including Panesar for the first Test, he worked on his mistake in the second Test and after a very long time, Indian batsmen had a tough time tackling spin on their home soil. The duo proved to be too hot to handle for the Indian batsmen, and they played a major role in England`s 2-1 win over India.
While Panesar couldn`t cement his place in the team for a longer period, Graeme Swann remained Cook`s go-to man whenever he needed a wicket. But Swann`s sudden retirement during the return Ashes series, proved to be a major setback for England, who are struggling to find a frontline spinner.
Such has been the dearth of spinners for England, that Alastair Cook has been using the likes of Moeen Ali and Joe Root to get through the quota of spin bowling. Even though Ali has managed to pick wickets, he is not the sort of spinner who can flummox world class batsmen.
In the first Test, the Indian batsmen felt like playing at home, as the pitch didn`t have much assistance for the seamers. While MS Dhoni had a decent spinner in Ravindra Jadeja, Cook was clearly missing a genuine spinner.
It is hard to believe that England are having a tough time finding a spinner who can fit into their scheme of things. There are a few contenders. If experience is anything to go by, England have the likes of Monty Panesar and James Tredwell. But surprisingly, selectors have recalled Simon Kerrigan into the squad for the Lord`s Test.
Not to forget, Kerrigan`s Test debut against Australia last year was nothing less than a nightmare. Kerrigan bowled just 8 overs on Day 1, conceded 53 runs, and didn`t bowl in the rest of the match. One would wonder why was he included in the first place against the Aussies, if Cook had no faith whatsoever in the youngster?
He has had a good season for Lancashire, but experts believe England coach Peter Moores had made the decision in a hurry, as the left-armer needed to get more wickets under his belt.
One name, which the selectors have ignored, is of Monty Panesar.
There have been disciplinary issues with him in the past, but there is no denying the fact that Monty is England`s most experienced spinner, now that they don`t have services of Swann any more.
Panesar, who has picked 167 wickets from 50 Tests, created a huge controversy when he was fined by police for urinating on nightclub bouncers in August 2013. The 32-year-old last played for England in the Boxing Day Ashes Test defeat by Australia last year.
While England were recently deprived of two world class batsmen in Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen, batting isn`t something which would be bothering Cook at the moment (his personal form should). It is the search of a threatening spinner.
I reckon, Ali and Root are two of the most talented English batsmen at the moment and they should focus more on their batting rather than being forced to discover the `doosras` and the `teesras`.
Now that he has been recalled into the squad, Kerrigan has a golden opportunity to cement his place in the team. In case if he fails, the hunt for England`s next frontline spinner is likely to continue.