“The reason you’re 77 all out is because of frontline batsmen not delivering. Who are the frontline batsmen who have delivered for England in the last five years? Joe Root, the end. No one else.”
That’s the damning verdict of former England captain Nasser Hussain after the tourists were bowled out for a dismal score in their first innings and trail Windies by 339 runs on day two of the first Test in Barbados.
The pundit insists there is an over-reliance on the England captain, whom he believes is England’s only world-class batsman.
“Root has delivered, there have been all-rounders down the order like Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, who have got them out of a hole but since the demise a little bit of Alastair Cook? Joe Root and no one else,” he wrote on his Sky Sports column.
“It was only a matter of time before another collapse came like this. Far too often, England have been 20-2 and recovered because of the brilliance of Root or 150-6 against India last summer and the brilliance of Sam Curran with the tail has saved them.”
Hussain opined during commentary on day one that young Sam Curran was “wasted” at No.9, while the selection of the Surrey all-rounder, who struggled bowling with the new ball, and leg-spinner Adil Rashid ahead of the experienced Stuart Broad was the talking point of first day.
The performance of fast bowler Kemar Roach on day two gave further ammunition to those calling for Broad to be reinstated.
“There are so many times that you can get through that with all those all-rounders in the middle-order but eventually someone like Kemar Roach will say, ‘not today, lads,” added Hussain. “We’ve got you 20-2, 45-5 – you aren’t coming back at us!’
“That was a magical spell of fast bowling but England have looked vulnerable with their batting for a long, long time. The great sides in world cricket have been based on a solid top three and England haven’t had a solid top three for a long time.
“Over time they have had someone dig in. They’ve done it with Curran, but eventually he’s going to get out – he can’t do it from No.9, he’s only got Adil Rashid and Jimmy Anderson coming in after him.
The selectors have come in for criticism by neglecting a specialist fast bowler and packing their team with all-rounders. Hussain weighed in with his views on team selection.
“This England side is too all-rounderish,” he said. “Yesterday they were opening their bowling with an all-rounder. On that pitch you need a frontline bowling attack. Your frontline bowling attack, your two new-ball bowlers have 1,000 Test wickets between them but for some reason, you break up that partnership.
“Curran should be your fourth seamer, not your second seamer after Jimmy Anderson. But that doesn’t mean you’re 77 all out.”