Former England captain Nasser Hussain said that England didn’t pick a balanced team as they opted for three spinners against India for the Test series opener in Hyderabad as well. The first Test will be played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium from Thursday, January 25. Hussain added that even legendary spinner Shane Warne, who claimed 34 wickets in nine Tests in India, didn’t have a great record in Indian conditions. He, however, backed England to continue with two inexperienced spinners in Rehan Ahmed and Tom Hartley as well.
On the eve of the first Test, Hussain told Sky Sports: “You look at other countries that try to hit India with spin historically Shane Warne didn’t get that many wickets and that much success in India or be it against the Fab Five and a different Indian batting lineup. I would like a more balanced bowling attack, but I guess with Rehan Ahmed’s second Test match, hardly debuted. Leach not bowling for a long time, they just feel they need three because, looking at that surface, it’s going to turn.”
The veteran continued: “Inexperience as well has led to the four spinners option. You’ve got Leach, like you said hasn’t bowled since June-July. You’ve got the two inexperienced lads in Hartley and Rehan Ahmed and you’ve got Joe Root. You think if it would’ve been Swann or Panesar as an example, you could’ve gone with a more balanced side.”
However, Nasser Husain was also not happy with England leaving their pace spearhead James Anderson, who has scalped 34 wickets in 13 Tests in India as well. He said, “One seamer, if you lose the toss, say tomorrow and it’s not doing that much and you’re starting with spin, you’re leaving out one of our greatest ever cricketers in Jimmy Anderson, arguably, our greatest ever bowlers in my eyes who has a pretty good record in this subcontinent.”
Meanwhile, in his column for Daily Mail, Hussain backed Virat Kohli, and Harry Brook as they have withdrawn from the first two Tests and the entire Test series respectively citing personal reasons.
“My first thought is that we wish Virat well. Like Brook, he has taken a step back for personal reasons, and everyone in the game should respect that. Some things are more important than cricket,” Hussain wrote. “There’s no doubt that India, and the series, will miss him. Any team would suffer when a player of Kohli’s class drops out, and it gives England a glimmer of hope in the first two Tests of a series in which they begin as clear underdogs.”
England’s playing XI for 1st Test vs India: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (C), Ben Foakes, Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Mark Wood, Jack Leach.