David Gower ventured his opinions on various facets of the English cricket team ahead of the one-off Test versus India at Edgbaston starting Friday. The legendary batsman was all praise for the leadership duo of Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, as he gears up to commentate from the studio in Mumbai.
Having sweeped the reigning World Test champions New Zealand 3-0 in the recently concluded series, England look like a side reborn. David Gower believes at the heart of their recent success is some bold captaincy by Ben Stokes, reared on by imperious motivation skills of head coach Brendon McCullum.
"The combination of McCullum and Stokes has clearly changed something,” remarked Gower to the Times of India.
"When McCullum's appointment was announced, people were wondering what his qualifications were. They are now apparent. He has a gift of getting into people's heads and making them feel better."
The changes at the helm has seen the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad return as regular members of the playing XI, much to Gower’s satisfaction. Under Joe Root’s captaincy, the pace attack was often left wondering about the rotational tactics. Extended rest periods had become the norm despite the players claiming they are ready to play.
"With regards to selection, when we have a world that is heading back to normal, and all your resources are available, then my view is as straightforward as McCullum's. Pick your best side for each game. This idea of playing a couple of games and being rested even when there is nothing wrong, doesn't make sense," the former captain opined.
"Without taking Joe Root to court, he is a different type of captain to Stokes. Stokes has a bulletproof approach to cricket. He will make mistakes, but so far most of his moves have seemed to be the right ones,” Gower further said, praising England’s new captain.
The Test at Edgbaston will be a one-off match, having been touted as the fifth Test of the incomplete series in 2021. India currently lead the hosts 2-1, after the final match was postponed last year owing to a COVID-19 breakout.
"It's never perfect. Had they managed to play this game 10 months ago, you had a perfect situation where if India either drew or won at Manchester, they could win the series and if England won, they could have squared it," said Gower.
Nevertheless, he is cautiously optimistic of his country pulling off something positive and leveling the series.
"If you are England, you will hope to take advantage, But if you look at this Indian squad, there is a lot of talent among the reserves. Look at the way they played in Australia. One should be wary of reserves because they have the talent and the spirit to make the most of it," concluded Gower.