‘The top-order has been too defensive, need to put bowlers under pressure’ – Nasser Hussain’s advice for England before Ashes finale
He further reckoned that England must be spot on with their selection choices in Hobart.
Updated - Jan 13, 2022 5:14 pm
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain feels that the Joe Root-led team has been extremely defensive against Australia in the Ashes and have failed to create any sort of pressure on their rivals, thus.
The two teams will run into each other in the fifth and final affair in Hobart’s Bellerive Oval in a day-night affair from January 14 onwards, with the visitors having clinched the coveted trophy already.
While England have not many pleasant memories from the series to take home, a hard-fought draw in Sydney after a dreadful hat-trick of losses is being seen by many as a reason for them to end the five-match series on a high.
Meanwhile, Hussain reckoned that Jonny Bairstow and Zak Crawley must ensure to pick things up from where they left in Sydney, while he also added that England must be spot on with their selection choices as Ben Stokes and Bairstow are both doubtful due to injuries.
“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. 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,” he wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“They have to put the bowlers under pressure, even with balls they are not looking to attack. Trevor Bayliss said when he was England coach that positive cricket does not mean swinging from the hip,” the cricketer-turned-expert added.
England need to pick the best XI available: Ben Stokes
Recalling the team’s selection blunders in previous day-night Tests against India and more recently against Australia, Hussain cautioned Root and management to “beware” and highlighted Australia’s formidable record in pink-ball games.
“Again, England need to pick the best XI available for this game. England should beware overthinking the conditions, too. They have got their side wrong for the last two pink-ball Tests in Ahmedabad and Adelaide and have only won one day-night Test, against West Indies at Edgbaston. Conversely, Australia have won all nine of their pink-ball Tests,” he wrote.
He stated that Stokes must be slotted in even if he is not fit enough to deliver with the ball and had a similar view for Bairstow, whose inclusion as per Hussain is necessary even if he is not keeping-ready.
“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.”