Alastair Cook has said that the ECB needs to give serious consideration to employing a full-time spin-bowling coach for the national side after the punishment inflicted on the England attack in India.
Cook observed how his spinners, specifically Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, had appeared more comfortable and confident when Saqlain Mushtaq was with the team as a spin-bowling consultant, a stay which ended after the third Test in Mohali and that had already been an extension on the original deal which had only covered the first Test in Rajkot.
England have not had a full-time spin-bowling coach since Mushtaq Ahmed ended his tenure in 2014. Saqlain was first used by England last summer when he joined the squad during the Test series against Pakistan and he has made a favourable impression.
"The coincidence when Saqlain was around and how much better we bowled as a group, that's something the system or whoever needs to look at, in terms of our spinners," Cook said.
While Moeen struggled ever to really gain a foothold in the series with the ball, Rashid's returns certainly back up Cook's view. Rashid took 18 of his 23 wickets in the series during the three Tests when Saqlain was present. In those matches he averaged 28.67 while in the final two Tests he took five wickets at 69.
England used six spin bowlers throughout the series: Moeen, Rashid, Zafar Ansari, Liam Dawson, Gareth Batty and Joe Root. Their combined returns across the five Tests amounted to 40 wickets at 48.10, which was second worst return for a group of English spinners in India, behind the 1992-93 side. On that tour, a 3-0 whitewash, India's batsmen flayed the frontline combination of John Emburey, Phil Tufnell and Ian Salisbury to such an extent that Graeme Hick emerged as the leading spinner. Salisbury had begun the tour as a net bowler before being drafted into the Test side after Emburey and Tufnell had been treated with disdain in the warm-ups.
Significantly, too, the class of 2016 also conceded runs at a higher rate - 3.55 an over - than on any previous tour of India, which meant Cook was unable to rely on them even for control during long days in the field. The lack of control from the spinners had also been exposed during the two Tests in Bangladesh, while there had been the same problem against Pakistan in the UAE last year when England's quick bowlers had been outstanding but any pressure was released when the spinners bowled.
"I think everyone can see we are suited to playing in seaming conditions," Cook said. "There's no point hiding behind that fact. These conditions have tested us to our limits and I really don't want to be disrespectful to Mo and Adil but they are not as good as Ashwin and Jadeja yet. They haven't quite got the control and consistency, certainly in the first innings when there's not much happening.
"Mo has done an amazing job for us over a long period in terms of becoming England's No. 1 spinner. He's two wickets away from 100 so he's done amazing things and will only get better and better.
"Without being disrespectful, without two gun, world-class spinners, winning in these conditions is going to be hard. In other conditions with our seamers and spinners, who are decent without being completely world-class, we'll compete with anyone. But this is as hard as it gets for this side at the moment."