London, Dec 28: England Test captain Ben Stokes has hit back at former fast-bowler Steve Harmison’s criticism over England’s preparation for the upcoming five-match Test series in India starting next month.
Stokes has been in rehab after undergoing a knee surgery at the end of November in London and is aiming to be fit in time for the series opener against India starting from January 25 in Hyderabad.
England will be having a training camp in Abu Dhabi before arriving in Hyderabad three days ahead of the series opener, something which let Harmison irritated. “If England go in just three days before, they just have to get beat 5-0, they really do. I’m an old man and that’s what they’re going to say, times have changed, the game has changed.”
“But I’ll tell you what, preparation hasn’t changed. You cannot go into India underprepared, you cannot go into India overprepared, you could be there for six weeks and still go into that first Test and the emotion and cauldron that goes in,” he said to TalkSport radio.
After the match in Hyderabad, India and England will play subsequent Test matches in Visakhapatnam, Rajkot, Ranchi and Dharamshala. An England Lions squad will also be playing matches against India ‘A’ team at Ahmedabad in January.
The series in India is billed to be the biggest challenge for Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, especially in terms of their ultra-attacking style of play and continuing with it in spin-friendly sub-continental conditions. England had won the series opener in Chennai in 2021, but lost the series 3-1.
“But going three days before, I’d love to know – you talk about (Kevin) Pietersen and (Sir Alastair) Cook, the only side that’s won there in 2012, what they would think if you were going in three days before, I think they’d have laughed at you.”