REVEALED: What led Stokes and McCullum to make a wild selection punt on Tom Hartley
Tom Hartley didn’t have a great start to his Test career on the first day of the first Test. He was taken to the cleaners by the Indian batters, especially Yashasvi Jaiswal, and looked listless. For some period of time, Hartley was the weakest link in the bowling unit, as he could neither control the flow of runs nor take wickets.
However, the 24-year-old made a decent comeback in the first innings, taking two vital wickets of Shubman Gill and KL Rahul. Hartley had slowly started to find the right length and pace to operate at. However, he reserved his best for the fourth innings when India were chasing a tricky 231.
Hartley wreaked havoc against India on a slow-turning Hyderabad pitch, as the Indian batters were found wanting. Hartley snared as many as seven wickets in the dig to bundle India on a mere 202 and script a memorable victory for England. It was an all-timer performance by a young spinner with massive potential.
He took all crucial wickets of India. Hartley’s seven-wicket haul was the best performance by an English spinner since 1945. The way he came back after taking ample beating was commendable.
What led Stokes and McCullum to make a wild selection punt on Tom Hartley
When England decided to pick Tom Hartley without prior Test experience and slot him straight in the XI, there were several talks about his inclusion, and rightly so. While the decks in India assist spinners, they require experience and skills to succeed. Before making his Test debut, Hartley only had 40 wickets at a mediocre average of 36.57 in 32 FC innings.
Still, England decided to pick him for a massive tour. The reason behind his inclusion was his height and high-arm release. The umpires in County Cricket wear iHawak cameras to provide analytics about the players, which are shared with the senior team and the staff for further analysis.
Tom Hartley’s selection might not have happened without the use of technology.— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) January 28, 2024
Just 40 wickets in first-class cricket but the iHawk cameras worn by the umpires in England’s domestic cricket gave analytical confirmation that he uses height in action [similar to Axar Patel] which… pic.twitter.com/0VnDupibRl
The data provided confirmed that Hartley’s height can be useful on Indian decks, leading to his selection despite average FC numbers. The move turned out to be a masterstroke. Hartley justified his selection after a slow start on the first day.
Tom Hartley’s variations made Indian batters look clueless. He got wickets with both turning and straight ones. It will be interesting to see how the batters counter him in the upcoming games.