Samson, who was initially named in the squad, was left out at the last minute after reportedly failing the Yo-Yo test – an endurance-specific running workout, similar to the beep test, which monitors overall fitness.
According to a report by the Times of India, the 23-year-old fell some way short of the benchmark for the Yo-Yo test which has been set at the 16.1 mark.
The Yo-Yo test has emerged as the preferred method for the Indian team in recent times to gauge the fitness level of the players with veteran batsman Yuvraj Singh famously failing the test last year.
Samson was to be a part of the India A squad which will take on the England Lions and West Indies A team in a triangular limited-overs series. However, this latest setback will do no favours to the Kerala-born batsman who has been earmarked as one of the promising stars for the future of Indian cricket.
He put in some more promising showings in the IPL this year on his return to the franchise after doing well in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Ranji Trophy for Kerala.
The Times of India report does go on to add that sources at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) have said that Samson was suffering from a few niggles and hence the low score in the fitness test.
Whether there is any truth in the report remains to be seen, but what cannot be denied is that this is a big blow for the youngster who has so far played only one T20I for the country which came against Zimbabwe in Harare in 2015.
Ex-Australia captain Ian Chappell believes India are well placed to win the Test series if they can expose England’s weaknesses during the five-match encounter.
The Indians take on Joe Root’s side with teh first Test starting in Edgbaston on August 1 with the tourists looking for their first Test series win on English soil since their 1-0 triumph in 2007. Since then they lost 4-0 in 2011 and 3-1 in 2014.
England go into the series on the back of a 1-1 Test draw with Pakistan but have problems of their own with team selection and form of key players including Alastair Cook an issue.
And Chappell believes that is a massive advantage for India.
“There’s a rare opportunity beckoning for India – the chance to beat both England and Australia in away Test series. England are in a state of flux after a devastating loss at Lord’s and then a less-than-convincing win over the predictably inconsistent Pakistan at Headingley,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.
“England’s top-order collapses are now a regular occurrence, which is not surprising when both opening positions are under a cloud. If it weren’t for the fact that Alastair Cook’s numerous partners have been under intense scrutiny, Cook himself would be in jeopardy.
“Two classic Cook double-centuries can’t mask the fact that in his last 29 Test innings – a period of 12 months – he has had 19 scores under 20, including ten single-figure dismissals. If an opener isn’t making centuries regularly then he has to ensure the opposition doesn’t get at the middle order while the ball is still new. Too often Cook is doing neither.”
The 74-year-old was also unconvinced by off-spinner Dom Bess, who went wicketless in the first Test against Pakistan before taking three scalps in the second.
“Smith’s (Chairman of selectors Ed Smith) other notable choice in his selection debut was off-spinner Dom Bess, an energetic and effervescent cricketer.
“His batting and desire to be involved in the contest are laudable but the early signs are that his offspin won’t threaten an Indian team bred on facing this type of bowler regularly. In one over at Headingley, Bess delivered more full tosses than R Ashwin offers up in a year, a prospect that players like Virat Kohli and M Vijay should be relishing.”
But he believes James Anderson, who will miss six weeks after deciding to rest his long-standing shoulder injury, will be crucial for England.
“Apart from the openers’ batting, England’s other major problem on the tour of Australia and New Zealand was that the pace attack comprised all right-arm bowlers of similar speed.
“Their inability to unearth a genuine pace bowler is a greater problem when they are overseas, but if the late UK summer is hot and dry, they will also need someone who can shake things up on home pitches in an attempt to dramatically change the course of a game.
“There is no doubt that the swing bowling of Jimmy Anderson will present the Indian line-up with a serious challenge, and if there’s movement off the seam, Stuart Broad will also be a handful. Nevertheless India have the stronger batting line-up of the two teams and their variety in attack could help negate England’s middle-order strength if the openers continue to fail.”
Turning out for Sussex, Ishant excelled in English conditions as he ended his two-month stint with 23 wickets in the County Championship Division Two and Royal London One-Day Cup. In the course of his stay, the India man also registered his maiden first-class half-century after scoring 66 runs against Leicestershire.
Still 29 years of age despite being around in international cricket for more than a decade, the lanky pacer’s Sussex stint should hold him in good stead for India’s upcoming tour of England.
With India slated to play five Tests against the Englishmen, we take a look at why Ishant can be the ace in the pack for Virat Kohli.
FAMILIARITY WITH CONDITIONS
One of the main reasons Kohli was desperate to turn out for Surrey in the County Championship was to gain familiarity with the seaming pitches after previously struggling in England.
While Kohli’s stint never came to fruition, Ishant’s highly impressive one could have a big impact in the five-match Test series.
Recently, Pakistan seamer Mohammad Abbas played county cricket Leicestershire in the Division Two. he then went on to shine for Pakistan in their tour of England where he picked up a four-wicket haul in each innings in the Lord’s Test to lead his side to a nine-wicket win.
Ishant will be hoping to replicate Abbas’ success when he returns to England later.
PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE IN ENGLAND
Ishant has already been a part of two previous Indian team tours to England in 2011 and 2014. Though his 25 wickets in seven Tests in England have come at an unremarkable average of over 40, the pacer has been unlucky to go wicket-less on many occasions despite bowling beautifully.
In 2014, he led India to only their second Test win at Lord’s in over 82 years with career-best figures of 7-74 in the second innings. That was India’s first overseas Test victory in more than three years after a disastrous run.
He will be the senior-most India pacer on the tour by all accounts and his previous experience will be invaluable for Kohli’s men.
While his numbers after 81 Tests for India are nothing to celebrate about, Ishant has transitioned excellently from a strike-bowler in his younger days to a workhorse.
His ability to bowl consistent lengths for long spells tirelessly has made him a permanent fixture in India’s Test squad despite the emergence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and more recently Jasprit Bumrah.
Ishant has learned the art of holding down one end and building pressure while the likes of Bhuvneshwar and Shami do the damage at the other end.
It is a role Peter Siddle performed admirably for Australia some years ago and it could just be what is needed for India when they set foot in England.