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Tom Hartley relishing opportunity to impress for England on Indian pitches

England are backing Tom Hartley to extract the most out of the traditionally spinner-friendly pitches on their five-match tour of India.

England’s focus was not on Hartley’s 19 wickets at a modest 44.84 apiece in last year’s LV= Insurance County Championship when they named him in their squad for the upcoming five-match Test series.

Instead, they are banking on Hartley harnessing India’s spinning surfaces in a manner comparable to Ravindra Jadeja and especially Axar Patel, who was England’s nemesis on their last Test tour in 2021.

Hartley’s only previous excursion to India was with Lancashire four years ago although an England Lions training camp in Abu Dhabi a couple of months ago has given him some confidence for the weeks ahead.

“With the conditions being completely different to English conditions, they’ve really analysed what has done well in India and what will do well,” the 24-year-old told the PA news agency.

“It’s nice to see people recognise that I might be the bowler to go out in India and do well. When people have confidence in you like that, it’s fantastic.

“I just feel all that confidence has been passed on to me and I can’t wait to go out there. My stats might not be the best in championship cricket but I bowl very similar to Axar and Jadeja.

“They’re taking a bit of a punt but I feel like I’ve proved myself in the training camps that I’ve been on and I deserve to get a go.”

Hartley suspects he will have a supplementary role if he is given the nod for a series which begins in Hyderabad on January 25, with only Jack Leach among England’s four main spinners capped more than once.

But Hartley, whose international career has comprised of just two ODI appearances against Ireland last year, has given plenty of consideration on how he intends to bowl to the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

“Although I haven’t played much cricket out there, I’m going with a feeling of what I need to bowl,” he said. “I see a lot of similarities between my white-ball bowling here and red-ball bowling out there.

“I feel like the pace, the revs you want to put on it and the shape of the ball will be very similar to white-ball areas – you just want to bowl that little bit fuller.

“As much as Indian’s batters are good players of spin, the conditions should be in my favour. You’ve just got to try not to over-complicate things and keep things simple and keep the stumps in play.

“India’s spinners are great but can we perform as well as them? There will be a lot of fight in us. I won’t be playing as a frontline spinner, so there won’t be tons of pressure on me.”

Hartley, who could also extract extra bounce from a 6ft 4in frame, has been taking on board advice from Graeme Swann, revealing the former England spinner’s straightforward approach is a breath of fresh air.

As for whether he has a similar outgoing demeanour as a spinner who took 255 wickets in 60 Tests and is now a consultant bowling coach, Hartley prefers to keep his cool but is not frightened to speak up.

“Once I’m in a battle or someone’s p*****g me off a bit, I’m not afraid to say what I want to say,” Hartley added, ahead of linking up with England on Thursday for a 11-day training camp in Abu Dhabi.

“That really has to be in the moment sort of feel but I’ve done a bit of both and found that just staying as relaxed as possible and having as little emotion as possible works for me.”

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