Hobart, Jan 13 (IANS) Former England captain Nasser Hussain highlighted that the top-order batters have been too defensive in the Ashes. He also urged England’s batters to build on counter-attacking efforts of Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Zak Crawley from the Sydney Test. England showed better showings with the bat to draw the fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and will look to play for pride in the final Test at Hobart starting from Friday.
“The way to go is the way Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow counter-attacked in that first innings at Sydney and how Zak Crawley played in the second. Bairstow’s century and Crawley’s 77 can’t be one-offs. They have to build on that and be more consistent. Ricky Ponting has spoken about how great bowlers love it when batters are defensive and there’s no doubt England’s top order have been too defensive in this Ashes,” wrote Hussain in his column for Daily Mail.
Hussain mentioned that despite the narrow draw in Sydney, England still needed to get things right with their batting.
“England showed a lot of fight and character in Sydney but, let’s be honest, there was still a massive gulf between the sides in those conditions and there is still plenty of work to do. That work needs to carry on at Hobart on Friday and England can build on the drawn fourth Test by looking back and seeing why they were slightly more successful. They improved at the SCG by getting the balance right between attack and defence, but only after they were 36 for four in the first innings. They have to start well now.”
Talking about the make-up of playing eleven, Hussain remarked that the fitness of Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow will be the key as the duo are nursing injuries. “The fitness of Stokes is key. If he can’t bowl, it will hugely affect the balance of the side but, even though I never like going into a Test with injured players, he should play as a batter if it will not damage his side further, because he is one of England’s two best players. The same applies to Bairstow. If he is fit to bat but not to keep, he should do so, then Sam Billings can make his Test debut with the gloves.”
The 53-year-old pointed out that opener Haseeb Hameed needs to be given a break. After making 25 and 27 in the first Test at Brisbane, Hameed recorded six single-digit scores in the Ashes. “Haseeb Hameed has gone more and more into his shell the longer this series has gone on and he’s been going nowhere. Against this quality attack, there will eventually be a ball with his name on it and England have to take him out of the cauldron now.”
Hussain signed off by saying England should pick their best possible eleven for the Hobart Test. “Again, England need to pick the best XI available for this game. As Stuart Broad said during the last Test, go with the best team for the match in front of you and worry afterward about the West Indies tour in March. If that means going into this game with Jimmy Anderson and Broad, then that’s how it should be.”