Ben Coad believes an England Test series victory in India would be a bigger achievement than winning the Ashes in Australia.
The Yorkshire seamer accepts that any Englishman would likely prefer an Ashes triumph Down Under if they were forced to choose given the rivalry.
But, says Coad, the conditions on offer in India, plus the quality of opposition, make this assignment a tougher one for Joe Root and company.
“India is definitely the toughest tour,” said the White Rose new ball quick.
“I think you’d choose a win over Australia in Australia rather than India away as an Englishman.
“But the technical challenge you face in India, you know you’re going to be in for a hard graft, especially as a seamer with the ball.
“With the bat, you’re going to be tested massively against spin.
“The heat and humidity you get there, it’s a very, very tough place to go. Plus, India are rightfully the number one side in the world at the minute. It was almost their second team which won in Australia a couple of weeks ago.
“It’s going to be a tremendous push to get a win there. But the lads can only take massive confidence from what they did in Sri Lanka. If Rooty can continue batting the way he is, we can get something out there.”
With that in mind, Coad is torn between head and heart when predicting the outcome of a series which begins in Chennai on Friday morning (4am UK).
“It’s hard to say we’re going to win, but I’ll try and be an optimist and say 2-1,” he said. “As a realist, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a whitewash in India’s favour. I hope not!”
England have won their last four Test series, most recently overcoming Sri Lanka 2-0 in a short and sharp two-match series last month.
India, meanwhile, beat Australia 2-1 in Australia either side of Christmas in a series which will live long in everyone’s memory for its quality.
The Indians gained high praise from many for the way they recovered from being bowled out for 36 in the opening Test defat at Adelaide to win in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Not only that, they had to do it without captain Virat Kohli, who returned home after the first Test to attend the birth of his first child, while they were also struck by a number of key injuries throughout the tour.
With that win comes two schools of thought ahead of this England series, however. The obvious one is that they will be on a high and ready and raring to go. The other is that they will have put everything into the Australia victory and may find it hard to rediscover the same energy.
“I can see that thought, but it may go the other way in terms of players like Kohli, Bumrah, Ashwin and Jadeja getting a decent amount of rest,” Coad reasoned.
“I don’t think that Australia Test series will affect them too much adversely. Let’s hope it does, but I can’t really see it.
“But England will definitely go there full of confidence after Sri Lanka. Winning there was a great achievement.
“And the way Rooty played (scores of 228 and 186), he showed his class.
“He’s the best player of spin I’ve ever seen in England. He looked like he was playing on a different pitch to everyone else.
“Bluey (Jonny Bairstow) made a statement. I know he didn’t get massive runs, but he contributed well and was there at the end for the win in the first game.
“And in terms of Bessy (Dom Bess), there’s so much pressure on a spinner going out there because they’re expected to be the match-winners. And when himself and Jack Leach weren’t getting wickets, there were comments about them not bowling well.
“Even when Dom got his five-for (5-30) in the first innings of the first Test, people were saying it could have been better.
“But in the second innings of the second game (4-49), he really came through and bowled beautifully.”
Towards the end of last summer, Coad claimed a stunning match haul of 8-41 in the Bob Willis Trophy win over Leicestershire at Emerald Headingley, leading to Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale to wax lyrical about his new ball seamer.
“I’m seeing signs of what I used to see with Ryan Sidebottom – real genius,” said Gale of Coad.
Another seamer with real genius is England’s Jimmy Anderson, who claimed six wickets in the first innings of the second Test at Galle, leaving Coad astounded by the 38-year-old’s wizardry.
But these next few paragraphs must come with a health warning. A Yorkshireman is praising a Lancastrian!
“Jimmy is just incredible,” said Coad. “He seems to be getting better and better, and I can’t see when he’s going to stop to be honest.
“The way they seem to be managing him and Stuart Broad – almost one game on and one game off – you can see them going on for quite a few years yet.
“He is so skilful, and his knowledge of how to get people out on certain pitches given the wickets he has got is second to none. He is an unbelievable performer.
“I think I’ve only ever played against him once or twice, and I haven’t had the chance to speak to him about bowling.
“I actually would say we’re quite different bowlers. He’s more swing and me seam, although we can both do the other. But I would love to tap into his knowledge because I’m sure he could still teach me loads of things about fast bowling.
“It just might have to be away from a Yorkshire v Lancashire game.”
The opening Test marks Yorkshire star Root’s 100th Test cap, meaning there will be a host of very proud people back at Emerald Headingley.
“Definitely,” added Coad. “Rooty deserves all the credit he gets. He’s been a brilliant servant for England and for us. Whenever he comes back to Yorkshire, it’s such a positive for us given the way he is around the lads as much as how he bats.”