How Tom Hartley studied Ravindra Jadeja on way to bowling England to Test victory over India

Lancashire Spinner's Tactical Analysis and Rapid Adaptation Propel England to Success in Hyderabad

In the realm of spin bowling mastery, Lancashire’s Tom Hartley emerged as an unexpected hero in England’s recent Test triumph over India. The revelation of his strategic approach and rapid adaptation showcased the pivotal role played by meticulous analysis and a thirst for learning.

Since Lancashire spin bowling coach Carl Crowe and Hartley initiated their ritualistic discussions centered around spin bowling, the focus inevitably gravitated towards dissecting the nuances of Ravindra Jadeja’s craft. Instagram reels of Jadeja’s artistry became shared sources of inspiration, further intensified as the duo delved into videos featuring Axar Patel ahead of the India tour.

Initially perceived as a backup to frontline spinner Jack Leach, Hartley’s two trips to the UAE in December and January transformed the narrative. Despite an uncertain start in the first innings at Hyderabad, Hartley’s impressive 7/62 in the second innings secured England’s victory, marking a pivotal turning point in his career.

In India’s spin-friendly conditions, where others might have struggled, Hartley’s unorthodox approach became an asset. His side-on run-up and quick stumps approach, coupled with a distinct lack of flight, contributed to his success, especially against experienced batsmen like KS Bharat and Rohit Sharma.

Crowe emphasized their extensive study of Jadeja and Axar’s variations, focusing on speed changes and approaches across different conditions. The duo aimed not to mimic but to understand the secrets of success, imparting those insights to Hartley’s bowling strategy.

The key takeaway from their analysis was the potency of the straighter delivery in spin-friendly conditions. Crowe highlighted how subtle variations, like the one dismissing Rohit Sharma, could prove decisive in keeping the bowler in the game.

Hartley’s coachability became evident in his commitment to learning beyond the net sessions. Crowe, drawing from his experience with Kolkata Knight Riders, praised Hartley’s craft-oriented approach, emphasizing his interactions with spinners like Washington Sundar during previous seasons.

Despite facing challenges in the first innings, Hartley’s resilience didn’t surprise his Lancashire support system. Back home, the focus wasn’t on the initial struggles but on his characteristic ability to bounce back quickly—a trait developed through experience at Old Trafford’s challenging conditions.

Mark Chilton, Lancashire’s director of cricket, highlighted Hartley’s unique connection to his roots and family. The son of former European Championship gold medallist Bill Hartley, Tom maintains ties with the Ormskirk Cricket Club and spends off-seasons nurturing plants in the family’s nursery.

Chilton witnessed Hartley’s growth, acknowledging his transformation from a late developer to a consistent performer. Despite the promising start to his Test career, Hartley faces the challenge of securing a spot in Lancashire’s XI during the upcoming county season, potentially sitting out due to the arrival of Australia’s Nathan Lyon.

Chilton acknowledged the challenges faced by spinners in England’s county system, expressing optimism that Lyon’s presence would benefit Hartley’s learning even if he doesn’t make the playing XI. As the Lancashire spinner returns home, his journey from tactical analysis to on-field success leaves a lasting impression on England’s Test victory over India.

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