Former England captain Nasser Hussain delivered a withering indictment on the “abysmal” selection behind the current side following their colossal 340-run defeat by South Africa in the second Test at Trent Bridge on Monday.
Hussain said too many recent call-ups had failed to deliver the goods at international level.
That failure reflected poorly on a selection panel made up of chairman James Whitaker, who played one Test as a batsman for England in 1986, former Test seamer Angus Fraser, now the director of cricket at county champions Middlesex and Mick Newell, who holds a similar position at Trent Bridge-based Nottinghamshire, a Second Division county.
The trio also receive input from England’s Australian coach Trevor Bayliss and the captain, in this case Test skipper Joe Root.
Monday’s reverse, which saw South Africa level the four-match series at 1-1 with more than a day to spare in Nottingham, again raised questions about England’s fallible top order.
Former captain Alastair Cook is now onto his 11th opening partner in Tests in Keaton Jennings since the retirement of Ashes-winning skipper Andrew Strauss, now England’s director of cricket, in 2012.
Meanwhile several batsmen have had a go in a top order where number four Root is the other mainstay.
Jennings and Gary Ballance, recalled for a third crack at Test cricket this series, were both twice out cheaply at Trent Bridge but Hussain said they were just two examples of poor selection in recent years.
“The lads who are coming in aren’t doing anything,” Hussain told Sky Sports.
“They won (the first Test at Lord’s because of Joe Root…the ones they’ve won before have been because of Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad in Johannesburg.
“The selectors are going to have to have a good long look at themselves because their record in the last two years — two years ago it was one-day cricket, now in Test match cricket — their selections have been abysmal.
“Name some lads who’ve come in: (James) Vince, (Ben) Duckett, (Gareth) Batty, (Zafar) Ansari…I can name a long list but no-one’s coming in and doing well. Ballance, Alex Hales.”
– ‘Ballance hasn’t changed’ –
Ballance has been in prolific form for Yorkshire this season but Hussain insisted: “Selection is not just about saying ‘Gary Ballance has 1,000 first-class runs so Gary Ballance plays’.
“Speak to umpires, speak to bowlers, has he actually changed? He hasn’t changed a thing and we’re getting exactly what we got the last two times.
“He’ll go back to county cricket and score runs again but that doesn’t mean he’s an international cricketer.”
Meanwhile England great Geoffrey Boycott, one of the outstanding defensive opening batsmen of his generation, was deeply unimpressed by the lack of application during Monday’s collapse to 133 all out.
“They need better batsmen and a better attitude,” Boycott, himself a former England captain told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special.
“Only Alastair Cook made any effort to play in the sort of the way that the situation demanded.
“The rest of them have a flamboyant way of playing. Play shots, whack it, hit it, get fours. Everybody keeps saying this brave new England side, attacking England side, we like to play positive and they have all got sucked into this feeling.
“They believe it now. If you believe that, then what you are going to get are wonderful successes, like at Lord’s (where England won the first Test by 211 runs), and these horrible losses. There is no middle ground.” – AFP
Story first published: 17th July 2017