Former skippers slam 'abysmal' England |

Former skippers slam 'abysmal' England

18 July 2017

Keaton Jennings failed twice at Trent Bridge // Getty

Nasser Hussain criticises England selectors while Geoffrey Boycott says batsmen need a "better attitude"

Former England captain Nasser Hussain delivered a withering indictment on the "abysmal" selection of the current side following their colossal 340-run defeat by South Africa in the second Test at Trent Bridge.

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As skipper Joe Root hit back at criticism from former captain Michael Vaughan that England's players had showed a lack of respect to Test cricket in Nottingham, Hussain turned the blowtorch firmly on the selectors.

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Rookie opener Keaton Jennings and No.3 Gary Ballance, the latter 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.

Hussain said the failure of recent inclusions to adapt to the top level reflected poorly on the selection panel, made up of chairman James Whitaker, Angus Fraser and Mick Newell, which receives input from England's Australian coach Trevor Bayliss and the captain, Joe Root.

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"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.

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"You name some lads who have come in - (James) Vince, (Ben) Duckett, (Gareth) Batty, (Zafar) Ansari, (Alex) Hales, Ballance - there is no one coming in and doing well.

"It is a sad indictment in county cricket that they are getting runs there and not for England."

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Former captain Alastair Cook is now onto his 11th opening partner in Tests, 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 No.4 Root is the only other mainstay.

Ballance has been in prolific form for Yorkshire this season but Hussain insisted: "Selection is not just about saying 'Gary Ballance has 1000 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."

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Hussain believes up to four players in the current XI are vulnerable heading into the third Test and changes are on the cards given Ballance and Mark Wood are also carrying injuries.

"The four guys under threat are Jennings, who looks horribly out of nick, Ballance, who still can't crack Test cricket, Liam Dawson - what's his role in the side? - and Mark Wood, who looks like he is carrying an injury," he said.

"Those four will be looking over their shoulder."

Legendary allrounder Sir Ian Botham agreed with Hussain's call for change, although he cautioned against any "major panic" given England's thumping win at Lord's just last week.

Botham suggested legspinner Adil Rashid should be in line for a recall but he backed Jennings to hold his place in the side.

"Selections have been a bit iffy from England and from the outside looking in it seems as though Root said he wanted Ballance to play, while Dawson was Trevor Bayliss' pick," Botham told Sky Sports.

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"The Ashes is creeping up - Australia will be fired up and ready to hit England with everything and we need to be ready, prepared and settled."

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."