I’ve been bowling a bit back home in the Caribbean during my break, but I have been itching to get out and practise since we arrived here in India last weekend.
Myself, Ben Stokes and Rory Burns will be out of quarantine first, ahead of the squad who have flown in from Sri Lanka.
One of the things the first couple of training sessions involving us three should provide is an indication of what conditions will be like.
Dom Bess (left) has taken 31 wickets in 12 Tests, while Jack Leach has 44 wickets in 12 Tests
I’ve played lots of Indian Premier League here but nothing in terms of first-class cricket, so the challenges of bowling with a red ball will become clearer.
In the IPL the batters have to come at you, whereas in Test cricket they can sit on you for a full session if they want and if the pitch is dead there is nothing you can do about it.
So let’s hope we get some good wickets with a little bit of pace for the bowlers.
Or even some turn, because if they spin, the matches will not be one-sided. We have good spinners in our squad and India won’t out-spin us.
Ravichandran Ashwin has taken 377 wickets, while Washington Sundar has played one Test
Over in the Caribbean we got India’s series in Australia on cable TV, so I kept an eye on them.
Their 2-1 win showed that you cannot underestimate any of the leading teams in Test cricket, even when some of their best players are missing.
In fact, the one thing that impressed me most about India was that everyone in their team chipped in.
If it wasn’t the guy who performed well in the previous innings, it was someone else.
Ben Stokes, along with Archer, will be out of quarantine before the England side from Sri Lanka
ROOT CAN KICK ON TO MORE THAN 150 CAPS
Joe Root will make his 100th Test appearance for England in Chennai a week today.
Our skipper is a great person and that’s what I believe makes him a good captain. He’s a really good man-manager.
To play 100 Tests is a lot of miles in the legs and just thinking about that many as a fast bowler hurts my back!
England captain Joe Root (above) has rediscovered his best at just the right time
But it’s a great achievement for Joe. With where he is at in his career, and what he is capable of with the bat, I reckon he’s got another 50 caps to come — at the very least.
He’s a player from the very highest bracket. He didn’t have the form he would have liked last summer, but I am so glad he is back on the horse and running again because we are going to need him, especially on a tour as challenging as this one.
For us, it’s great he has rediscovered his best at just the right time. I couldn’t watch the first Test in Sri Lanka because it was not broadcast in the Caribbean but I saw most of the second one after arriving in Chennai.
The biggest compliment I can pay him is that he played like a local. He adapted well and that’s what the best batters in the world do — adjust to conditions and thrive.
One of the big bonuses for us is that we have two subcontinent series back to back and he won’t have to change too much. He can just play the same way and hopefully continue where he left off. It is much more difficult heading on tours one after the other and needing to adapt to different surfaces straight away.
We will all be very happy if he continues in the same manner of the last few weeks.
IT WAS NICE TO CHILL BACK HOME
It’s hard not to enjoy yourself in Barbados and I was grateful for some time off and to chill with family and friends after such a busy period of cricket in 2020. There were some Covid restrictions, but there was a lot more freedom than we’ve had in the UK.
Last summer, I did more time in the England biosecure bubbles than anybody else and after missing the tour of Sri Lanka it’s time to get those days back up once again.
I was already due to miss the one-day series in South Africa before it was cancelled, so that I could go home for Christmas, but it was nice not to be rushed back either. I arrived in India feeling refreshed and recharged, ready to start playing cricket again.
American bulldog Blu has stayed at home while Jofra takes part in the tour of India
The hardest thing about coming away this time was leaving Blu, my American bulldog. I got him in the summer of 2019 on the day that I made my Test debut against Australia at Lord’s. The first day of the match got rained out and when play was called off at 4.30pm I went straight to Luton to meet him for the first time.
He lived with me in England for a few months but I moved him when we toured New Zealand in 2019-20 and now, whenever I am back home, he is on my tail.
If I go to get in the car he tries to hop in with me. If I go for a walk he’s right behind me.
He follows me all through the house and jumps on my bed. Parting this time was more difficult because I’d been around for a bit long
ROTATION IS PART OF THE DEAL NOWADAYS
I know that Stuart Broad talked about playing two of six Test matches this winter because the conditions do not necessarily suit fast bowlers and, similarly, if I play two against India I will be happy.
As an attack, we must get used to more rotation and it feels good that any one of us can walk away from the team knowing that whoever comes in as our replacement will perform.
I guess for years it has been a big thing for bowlers to strive to keep their places in the team, but now it’s more like you are passing the baton over in as strong a position as possible.
Coach Chris Silverwood and both captains Joe Root and Eoin Morgan are on the same page
You don’t hold back, you must give everything you can when you get an opportunity. There’s no trying to preserve yourself. These are new times in cricket and you have to adjust.
We face 17 Test matches in 2021 and it is virtually impossible to play every one, so resting periods have been organised well in advance.
Decisions like this come about from speaking to coach Chris Silverwood and both England captains, Joe and Eoin Morgan.
Most tours include all three formats, so you need to be across everything with all of them if you play all three like me. It’s important that everyone is on the same page.
We started talking about my future schedule in the England bubble in Southampton last summer and continued during the white-ball series in South Africa, so that shows how much planning goes into these things. It is a long process.
They are constantly looking at cricket’s calendar and trying to put out the best teams for every series while not burning anyone out. I know they will already be looking at the next series and the next series after that, not just this one coming up.
There are exciting, important games ahead and this is where the depth in our squad should really count — to allow us to have the best team on the park as often as possible, all the way to the World Cup and the Ashes.
We all enjoy seeing each other do well. Yes, we are up against each other for selection — but the guys I play alongside now are the ones I grew up watching.
The likes of Jimmy Anderson, Broady and even Jake Ball. He came to South Africa with us and being around him was cool because he got into the England team around the same time as my close friend Chris Jordan and it’s nice to be next to the guys you used to see on TV. It helps you appreciate the journey you’ve been on to get her