Former England skipper Nasser Hussain has expressed his surprise at the England squad picked for the first Test against Pakistan which begins at the Lord’s from Thursday, July 14. According to the popular cricket commentator, Jos Buttler or Scott Borthwick should have been selected though he understands why the selectors might have gone in with Ballance.
Ballance himself was surprised to see his name in the squad for the Lord’s Test having last played for England during the 2015 Ashes series and Hussain feels Buttler is too good a talent to be left out of the longest format of the game.
"It's a bit of a surprise selection," said Hussain. "Not many people were talking about Ballance this summer and Roland-Jones, to be honest, I haven't seen a lot of in red-ball cricket, so it is difficult to judge. It's in no way a dreadful selection, but I would have gone differently, I have said that all along.
“Buttler is too good a talent to have just carrying drinks or out playing in county cricket. Buttler hasn't played a lot of red-ball cricket since he was left out of the Test team, and the selectors obviously wanted to go for someone who has. Jos now needs to score a stack of runs for Lancashire,” he added.
The wicketkeeper-batsman, who has hit England’s three fastest centuries in ODI cricket, will have to wait a bit to prove himself though as he awaits the result of an X-ray after picking up an injury to his left thumb during a recent Natwest T20 Blast game. Another player Hussain sees potential in is Durham’s Borthwick though he understands why the English selectors might have overlooked him.
"Scott Borthwick can feel a little unlucky to miss out - he has got stacks of runs over a two-year period for Durham and although over the last couple of weeks he hasn't got as many runs as he would like, I wouldn't look too short-term. He is obviously a very fine player. But he bats at three, and the selectors might have made up their mind that they want to move Joe Root up to three in the order and therefore that possibly rules him out,” Hussain said.
As for Ballance, Hussain is hoping that the 26-year-old has ironed out the flaws in his game that made him so susceptible against the genuine fast bowlers of New Zealand and Australia in 2015.
"The selectors are showing a bit of continuity by picking Ballance. He was the reserve batsman in the squad in South Africa, plus he scored a very timely hundred for Yorkshire against a decent Middlesex bowling attack last week,” Hussain said.
“Ballance has a very good first class record, a very good Test record. Plus, the middle order should suit his technique. But there is no hiding place in international cricket, and the last time we saw him he had a bit of a problem against left-armers, and against the very full and very short ball. He will need to have ironed out those issues because one thing is for certain, Pakistan will go at him with the short stuff and the fuller delivery. Plus, they have very good left-armers in their attack, particularly Mohammad Amir,” he added.