Nasser Hussain believes England and Joe Root will be fully focused coming into the second Test against New Zealand in Edgbaston from today. England have endured a tough few days following the emergence of Ollie Robinson's offensive tweets from the past. Similar incidents involving other English players are also being looked at by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
England, who haven't lost a Test series at home to New Zealand in 22 years, will be keen to preserve that record heading into the second game. Despite recent developments having rocked English cricket, Hussain thinks skipper Joe Root won't let them affect his side's performance on the field.
Writing in his column for the Daily Mail, the former England captain said:
"I don’t for one minute expect Joe Root to carry the troubles of the last few days into the game. I have no doubt that England’s cricketers will be able to focus on the matter at hand at Edgbaston— winning a Test series against New Zealand. There are plenty of people around Root to deal with all the off-field stuff and rightly so — it’s a serious matter. I have every confidence he has his eye on the ball."
England, who managed to draw the first Test at Lord's, faced some backlash for not going after a win on the fifth day. But Joe Root still feels they made the right call by playing for a draw in the final innings.
Nasser Hussain wants Joe Root to play Jack Leach in the second Test
England are missing the services of all-rounders such as Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran and Moeen Ali. This has complicated Joe Root's task of getting the right team balance.
England played four pacers in the first Test, but Hussain thinks the hosts should bring back Jack Leach into the playing XI for the second game. He wrote:
"Without an all-rounder — be it Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran or even Moeen Ali — he’s (Joe Root) going to leave one box unticked. It’s a question of choosing the least bad option. I wouldn’t play Dom Bess simply because he’s a better batsman than Jack Leach. If you pick a frontline spinner — and I would, in this weather — you pick Leach and get Root to bowl the off-breaks."
New Zealand have already announced that Kane Williamson will miss the second Test due to an elbow niggle, with Tom Latham set to lead the team. The Kiwis are looking to make other changes to their playing XI as well.
Ollie Robinson, on the other hand, won't feature for England in the second Test, following his suspension. It remains to be seen whether the hosts will bring a like-for-like replacement in Craig Overton or add an orthodox spinner in Jack Leach.