England arrived in India yesterday hoping the return of swing king Simon Jones would counter-balance their lack of proven spin options in the forthcoming Test series.
The Welsh pace bowler missed the series defeat in Pakistan before Christmas after failing to recover in time from an ankle operation.
But he was among the 16-man party that arrived in India, having already acclimatised himself earlier this month at Dennis Lillee's pace academy in Chennai.
Although he has made only 18 Test appearances, Jones is viewed as an essential cog in England's attack due to his ability to gain aerial movement with both new and old ball.
The 27-year-old mesmerised the Australians las summer, taking 18 wickets in four memorable Ashes Tests, and coach Duncan Fletcher has no doubt of the effect of his absence against Pakistan, to whom England lost 2-0, and subsequent return to fitness for the three-match Indian campaign.
"You have got to assume his absence was very important for us," Fletcher said. "Over there - and you have to think to some degree here in India will be the same - skiddy bowlers are effective. These wickets tend to favour skiddy bowlers and Jones' strength is he bowls quickly, skids the ball and gets swing. We believe he will be effective on these surfaces so you have to say he was a loss in Pakistan as well."
Jones was accompanied by bowling coach Troy Cooley on his recent jaunt, primarily designed to get some mileage in his legs but which also allowed some experimentation with the SG balls used solely in India at Test level.
Fletcher said: "From listening to Simon Jones he got it to swing conventionally from when it was new and when he roughed some balls up he got it to reverse swing. At least the balls here will help the seamers to some degree."
Last time England toured India in 2001-02 the attack was led by a green Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff, who despite being viewed as a batsman who could bowl at the time was plucked from the Adelaide academy by Fletcher a week or so into the trip.
That pair toiled with credit while the control was provided by the absent Ashley Giles, who tied down the opposition's star batsmen by bowling over the wicket, aiming into the rough outside the leg stump.
Such a tactic resulted in then captain Nasser Hussain being heavily criticised in the country of his birth.
But present leader Michael Vaughan refused to be drawn on his employment of spinners in the coming weeks.
Vaughan said: "We will have to wait and see but if I remember rightly Ashley Giles had Sachin Tendulkar stumped for the first time in Test match cricket so it can't have been such a negative tactic. We will wait on the conditions, how our bowlers are bowling and how they are playing but we are not set in stone on one particular tactic."
Armed with Shaun Udal, Monty Panesar and Ian Blackwell, a trio of spinners boasting three caps and as many Test victims among them, England are braced for a dust bowl when the series begins in Nagpur in just over a fortnight.
"We do think we might play on some spinner-friendly pitches, especially because of our attack," said Vaughan, referring as much to the lack of experience in his slow men as the prowess of the pace pack. "We will just have to come up with our best formula to get 20 wickets to put India under pressure.
"I remember the Mohali Test last time we were here and the seam bowlers played quite a big role. We will just focus on our performance and get the best formula for England to do well on this trip."