England knew what they were getting when they plumped for Gareth Batty for the tour of Bangladesh and, latterly, India. They got themselves a straight-talking, wise old hand, and a natural leader of their callow spin attack. Moeen Ali has played much more, and Adil Rashid has played much more recently, but neither has Batty's presence or streetsmarts.

That England's spin cupboard is bare is beyond doubt. As Paul Farbrace said before flying home after the ODI series: "We are still improving there. We all know there is not massive depth - to be honest there seven or eight guys in the frame in England and five of them are on this trip." The others are Liam Dawson, who did not play in the ODIs, Zafar Ansari, a member of the Test squad, as well as Jack Leach and Ollie Rayner, who came closest to making the squad. The riches are hardly embarrassing.

Even if he does not pull up trees, Batty was a shrewd pick, for he works with Ansari at Surrey and used to play for Worcestershire with Moeen, who said this week: "I know him well. I learned quite a bit from him - he's a very good spinner."

There is no spin-bowling coach on tour, until Saqlain Mushtaq joins up with the squad in India, so Batty's experience - his first tour with England was to Bangladesh, 13 years ago - will be vital. His constant chatter with Rashid about how to go about their business was a noticeable aspect of England's first full training session, which happened in lieu of a washed-out practice match. They will play a 45-over game against a BCB XI on Saturday, then a two-day game on Sunday and Monday.

It is likely that Batty will join Moeen and Rashid in the XI for Thursday's first Test in Chittagong, where it is expected to turn. England may revert to two spinners for Dhaka, but the side is far from decided, with places up for grabs opening, in the middle order and among the bowlers. All of the 16 players on tour - three of whom are uncapped - could play. Batty is approaching the task at hand with characteristic relish.

"It's a positive [that spin plays a big role here]," he said. "In England it's more seam-orientated, so it's actually really nice that spin could play a part. We won't know until we see the surfaces, but it's a challenge and a real good thing for spinners to be able to say 'hang on a minute, we can help to win games of cricket for England'."

After a difficult end to the domestic season, Rashid is enjoying a very fine tour, having taken 10 wickets in the ODIs, which equals the most by a spinner in a three-match series ever, while also going at five runs an over. Rashid, like many of the squad, has a spring in his step and Batty believes the success of the ODI side can rub off on the Test squad. "Winning's a habit, it's a culture," he said spikily.

England have played 142 Tests since Batty last made an appearance, against Bangladesh at Chester-le-Street in 2005, before Kevin Pietersen even debuted. Since, England have gone through 10 frontline spinners before plumping for Batty again, and while he did not expect his recall, he is relishing it, and believes he is a better bowler now than he was 11 years ago.

"This is brilliant to be a part of," he said. "There's a wonderful vibe about the place, I noticed that from stepping on the plane with a few of the Test boys, there's a great camaraderie around the group. It's a great privilege to be involved with England, and hopefully I can add to that and do my bit.

"The proof will be in the pudding, if I'm fortunate enough to get a go, but on a daily basis for the last few years I have known what I have to do and gone about my business as I would require - I feel a better bowler, yeah."

Does Batty have nothing to lose? "A little bit. It's a nice opportunity when you're nearing the end of your career to be able to say 'I've managed to progress and will hopefully keep progressing throughout my career'. We will see where we get."

Whether he is selected or not, two things are for certain: Batty will remain fiercely his own man and, secondly, he firmly believes age is just a number, and is unfazed by playing with Haseeb Hameed who, at 20 years his junior, is less than half his age.

"That's the norm!" he said. "There are a few boys at Surrey who are even younger than that. I'd like to think everybody takes the age out of it. They see the wrinkles in the morning and think 'he's an old sod', but for the rest of the time hopefully I'm just one of the boys."