Nasser Hussain, former England captain and cricket pundit, has on Monday, 12th August, come out in support of underfire wicket-keeper batsman Jonny Bairstow after yet another poor batting display in the first Ashes 2019 Test against Australia last week at Edgbaston.
Bairstow has come under the scanner with his scores of 2, 0, 0, 8 and 6 in his last five Test innings, including the Edgbaston match as well, which prompted speculation over his place in the English set-up.
But Hussain believes that other batsmen like Jos Buttler and Jason Roy should also come under the same radar in English set-up while backing Bairstow for the second Ashes Test at Lord’s on 14th August.
In his column for Daily Mail, Hussain wrote: “There seems to be a perception that everything would be all right with England's batting if they took the gloves off Jonny Bairstow. It's deeper than that and I just do not get the downer some people have on him.”
He continued, “I just do not understand why Bairstow has copped any more flak after England's defeat in the first Ashes Test than, say, Buttler. Is it because Jos is perceived as a really good bloke? Bairstow has six Test hundreds and has proved himself time and again. Yes, he is going through a lean patch. Absolutely he is. But everybody does at times during their international career and Bairstow has shown he is a very talented keeper-batsman and should be backed now ahead of this week's second Test.”
Meanwhile, Hussain has claimed that neither Buttler nor Roy have yet to make any significant impact in the red-ball cricket. He added, “Buttler has only five first-class centuries having spent all his county career playing on good pitches at Taunton and Old Trafford so there must be a reason for that. The signs were good last summer against India but he hasn't cracked it yet.”
Former England captain continued, “Neither has Roy. England have thrown in a lad who plays a lot of shots, up against a very good seam attack on pitches that do a bit. And he is coming off the back of getting out at Edgbaston to Nathan Lyon trying to play the sort of shot he regularly succeeds with in the white-ball game. I would prefer to see him at four but now England have put him at the top of the order, against the moving ball in difficult conditions, they must hold their nerve and give him time.”
While saying England should not panic with massive defeat in Birmingham, Hussain suggested the home side follow their white-ball approach in Test cricket to make a comeback in the ongoing Ashes 2019 series.
He further opined, “The reason why Bairstow's role in the side is even an issue is because there are so many areas of concern in England's Test batting at this pivotal stage of the Ashes. But we should remember they beat India comfortably last summer and after two days of the first Ashes Test were in a commanding position, so not everything is bad. Remember, too, that England should have gone on to a commanding score when Joe Root and Rory Burns were together at 154 for one at Edgbaston even after allowing Australia to wriggle off the hook at 122 for eight and get up to 284.
So, this is not a time, at one down with four to play, to panic. It's a time for crystal-clear thought processes just like we have seen from Eoin Morgan, Trevor Bayliss and the white-ball side over the last four years. That white-ball revolution came from having firm beliefs and never doubting them and it is time for exactly the same approach in the Test game without any self-doubt either from the players or the selectors. England showed belief in Burns before Edgbaston and he repaid them with a hundred.”
Hussain also called for calmness and big runs from the senior players to overcome collapses against Australia, adding: “The problem is that, for all the depth in England's line-up, there are obvious chinks and going into the first Test it was clear that two key figures in Bairstow and Moeen Ali were either short of form or devoid of confidence.”
He signed off by saying, “The big problem is the collapses. Once England go they really go and they need toughness to overcome these chinks. Their middle order have been able to bully some sides but I'm not sure they can bully Australia. And above all they need to stay calm. They need frontline batsmen to get big runs and they need clear thinking to pull that off.”
(With Daily Mail inputs)