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England rope in Indian sidearm specialist for World Cup prep

Saurabh Ambatkar, who has been part of the support staff at KKR in the IPL, will travel with the team throughout the World Cup

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Saurabh Ambatkar has been part of the support staff at Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL  •  KKR Knight Club

Saurabh Ambatkar has been part of the support staff at Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL  •  KKR Knight Club

England have enlisted an Indian sidearm specialist to help them prepare to face left-arm fast bowling in the World Cup.
The sidearm, the device that resembles a dog-thrower, has become ubiquitous in the professional game over the last decade and is used extensively by coaches in England's training sessions. England's core coaching staff in India comprises head coach Matthew Mott and his assistants Marcus Trescothick (batting), Carl Hopkinson (fielding), Richard Dawson (spin bowling) and David Saker (seam bowling).
But in order to reduce the burden on their main coaches, England will employ Saurabh Ambatkar, who played age-group cricket for Mumbai and Vidarbha, throughout the 2023 ODI World Cup. He linked up with the squad in Guwahati last week and will travel with the touring party throughout the tournament.
And while Mott and his four assistants all throw with their right arm, Ambatkar has the advantage of throwing with his left, helping create variety and enabling England to prepare to face the significant number of left-arm seamers who they will encounter over the next seven weeks in India.
Ambatkar has been part of the support staff at Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL in recent seasons, as well as for Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in UAE's ILT20. He has worked alongside England team manager Wayne Bentley, who performs the same role at KKR.
Four years ago, England's batters were collectively perceived as having a weakness against left-arm seam, not least after losing nine wickets to Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc in their defeat to Australia at Lord's at the 2019 World Cup. They lost 20 wickets to left-arm seamers at that World Cup, the most of any team - but also scored at 6.07 runs per over against them, the fastest rate of any team.
They will come up against a familiar left-arm seamer in the tournament's opening game in Ahmedabad this week in New Zealand's Trent Boult. Boult took eight wickets in two appearances against England last month, and is expected to take the new ball on Thursday evening.
As well as Ambatkar, England have also enlisted a local massage therapist for the World Cup. Mahesh Aarya will join their medical team, supporting Mark Saxby, physio Craig de Weymarn, strength and conditioning coach Andy Mitchell, and team doctor Rob Young.
England are due to make the long journey across India from Guwahati to Ahmedabad on Tuesday afternoon, and will train on Wednesday night before the tournament starts on Thursday.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98