England play generation game as Shoaib Bashir and James Anderson named in XI

England are ready to play the generation game after pairing 20-year-old debutant Shoaib Bashir and 41-year-old seamer James Anderson for the second Test in India.

Bashir, who has been fast-tracked into the XI after just six first-class appearances and 10 wickets, was born five months after Anderson won his first cap at Lord’s in May 2003.

The duo come into a winning team at Visakhapatnam on Friday, with the young off-spinner replacing the injured Jack Leach and the country’s record wicket-taker in for Mark Wood.

Bashir will be the 99th player to make their England debut since Anderson made his bow against Zimbabwe more than two decades ago. Numbers 98 and 96, Tom Hartley and Rehan Ahmed, are the men to join Bashir in a three-pronged spin attack boasting just three Tests between them.

Solitary seamer Anderson is on hand to make up for their collective lack of experience as he lines up for the 184th time.

Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum have made fearless selections a hallmark of their reign as captain and coach but, emboldened by their stirring 28-run success in Hyderabad, this is their boldest move yet.

Yet Stokes, who was first alerted to Bashir’s promise via a social media clip of him bowling at Sir Alastair Cook, insisted it was a straightforward call.

“Bash coming in for Leachy was a simple one: one spinner out, one spinner in,” he said.

“Baz told him. So, when I went up to him, I knew that he knew and he just gave me a big hug. He looked very excited. I’m fully backing him and looking forward to hopefully putting on a grand show.”

Bashir impressed England during their recent training camp in Abu Dhabi and looked assured enough for Stokes to treat his delayed arrival in India, caused by visa hold-ups related to his Pakistani heritage, a non-factor.

Brushing off the disruption of his unplanned trip back to the embassy in London, he added: “There’s no issues for me that he’s been away from the group for a period of time, then come back in to make his debut. It’s not like he’s forgotten how to bowl.”

Sitting at the other end of the spectrum is Anderson, setting out on his 22nd calendar year of international cricket and his first outing since the retirement of long-time partner Stuart Broad.

He showcased his undimmed desire to play a part by throwing himself into substitute fielder duties on the final day of the first Test.

“It’s great that Jimmy is doing good things for the old boys out there,” said Stokes with a smile.

“It’s huge credit to him and lots of people should look up to Jimmy considering he is where he is at 41. Bringing in Jimmy’s experience, and the class that he has, is great for us and I think it also goes under the radar how good his record in India is.

“Considering what Jimmy is known for – ‘the swing king’ and all that – it just proves how good a bowler he is. Taking nothing away from Woody, we just feel like there’s a bit more I can turn to him for. It’s not just picking Jimmy for the new ball, it’s everything else he possesses – his reverse skills, his off-cutter skills and stuff like that.”

Ben Stokes is hoping to be bowling again by the summer.
Ben Stokes is hoping to be bowling again by the summer (Mike Egerton/PA)

Stokes is playing in India as a specialist batter but bowled gently during Thursday’s practice session for the first time since undergoing knee surgery. He plans to return as a fully functioning bowling option during the English summer, when Joe Root’s newfound status as the side’s top-rated all-rounder – as confirmed by the latest ICC rankings – could come under threat.

“I’m surprised but he’s not actually mentioned he’s nipped above me,” Stokes said.

“I always said to Joe he underbowled himself as captain. I told him ‘I’ll make a bowler out of you!'”