Nasser Hussain believes England made a tactical blunder by not including left-arm spinner Jack Leach in the playing XI for the Edgbaston Test. According to the former England skipper, since the Edgbaston pitch is a flat one, the hosts needed variety to make an impression on the New Zealand batsmen.
Responding to England’s first-innings total of 303, New Zealand ended Day 2 of the second Test at 229 for 3. It could have been worse for England had Dan Lawrence not dismissed Will Young (82) just before stumps. Earlier, Devon Conway again thwarted the English attack, making a well-made 80.
In his column for the Daily Mail, Hussain wrote that England needed a frontline spinner in the second Test to compete against a strong Kiwi line-up. He explained:
“I did not think that at Lord's, where there is always something in for seamers. But whenever I have come to Edgbaston I've always wanted a spinner because of the conditions we've seen in this game. So I'd have found a way to get Jack Leach in the side. If he doesn't play here, it's difficult to see just where he will play Test cricket."
Hussain expressed his surprise at England’s bowling line-up, pointing out that managing director Ashley Giles (a left-arm spinner during his playing days) and spin coach Jeetan Patel should have known better. The former skipper added that Joe Root cannot be considered as England’s main spinner. He wrote:
“Yes, Joe Root is a good off-spinner but it is an indictment on the slow bowling options in our country if he is now considered England's best spin option. He is already England's captain and best batsman, so it's asking a lot for him to shoulder the spin load too. It's an area of our game where we continue to struggle. Perhaps England's thinking is connected with two left-armers in the New Zealand attack, in Trent Boult and Neil Wagner, and the fact Stuart Broad is doing a lot of his bowling from round the wicket. That will create rough outside the right-hander's off-stump for Root. But just look at the weather. It's going to be very hot for the last three days, and it's going to get harder for an all-seam attack.”
Stuart Broad was the pick of the England bowlers
Even though England could only claim three wickets on a tough Day 2, Hussain felt that the pacers did a reasonable job. He picked Stuart Broad (2/22) as the best of the lot.
Broad went past Courtney Walsh (520) on the list of leading Test wicket-takers on Friday. Praising England’s faster men, Hussain wrote:
“That's not to say England's seamers didn't bowl well — even though Olly Stone struggled to maintain control as the day went on — and there was much more swing on offer once they persuaded the umpires to change the ball. The old one was doing nothing. Broad was the pick of the attack. His new ball spell was exceptional and he was excellent after tea when he got that changed ball. Perhaps seeing sides struggle against the Dukes ball in England has made us expect wickets to come much more cheaply than this. But Test cricket is tough and that's why you need proper variety in every attack.”
Resuming the day on 258 for 7, England were all out for 303 in 101 overs. Left-arm pacer Trent Boult claimed 4 for 85 for New Zealand. The Kiwis lost Tom Latham (6) early, but 80s from Conway and Young gave the visitors the upper hand.
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