England’s batting was a bigger issue than Ben Stokes’ decisions as they lost the first Test to an “exceptional” West Indies, says Nasser Hussain.
Stokes, standing in as captain for Joe Root in Southampton, opted to bat first in drizzly conditions and in addition left seamer Stuart Broad out of his first home Test since 2012.
England were rolled for 204 in their first innings and went on to reduce by four wickets as West Indies chased down 200 on the final day to have a 1-0 lead in the three-match #raisethebat series.
The hosts must now win the second and third Tests at Emirates Old Trafford to regain the Wisden Trophy with West Indies holding the silverware after their 2-1 victory in the Caribbean in early 2019.
“Let’s not get lost with the Broad issue or the toss issue. England having batted first were bowled out for 204 – that is still their nemesis,” said Hussain, who added that he would retain Zak Crawley, who top-scored for England with 76, and drop Joe Denly to support Root’s reunite.
“They did well in South Africa, but in England, contrary to the Dukes ball, they often end up 20-3, 30-3, and without Root in the side this week that has been a nightmare. That continues to be the issue for England.
“They are likely to a good surface at Old Trafford. Root is right back and they need certainly to bat like they did in South Africa this winter and at points in New Zealand. Not by being 204 all out.
“Sometimes as a captain you have to say ‘I right back my side to get 300 on this’ but England fluffed their lines again with the bat after winning the toss.
“I would have Crawley at three, not just as a result of his runs and improvement but also his tempo. I sometimes go through the top three of Dom Sibley, Rory Burns and Denly plus they are a bit one-tempo.
“Crawley is just a little bit busier – even though that he opened in South Africa he got Sibley going slightly and South Africa were ‘hang on, the run rate goes up just a little bit’. I love Crawley at three.
“Denly hasn’t been an emergency – he’s got won games for England, been very consistent, been a stop-gap but I do believe it is time to proceed with youth.”
Hussain did say, though, that he was surprised Broad was omitted from the starting line-up.
Broad took 23 wickets at the average under 27 at home against Australia last summer, while he claimed 14 at 19.42 as England won 3-1 in South Africa on the winter.
“All I would say about Broad is when this was the first Test of an Ashes series, would he have now been playing. I’d say, yes, 100 percent? So why wasn’t that he playing contrary to the West Indies?
“Was it because we underestimated West Indies and took them lightly? They hold the Wisden Trophy – we have underestimated them in the past plus they have beaten us, why do it here?
“Was it because they couldn’t choose between Wood and Archer and so split Broad and [Jimmy] Anderson and said ‘look to the future’?
“Look to the now. Win this game. It’s a three-match series and also you don’t support the Wisden Trophy.
“I hope they don’t think ‘two wrongs make a right – Broad has had a little bit of moan, maybe he must have played’. Don’t continue the press, go on what you think for another Test.
“The good thing for England is that the back-up bowling – Broad and [Chris] Woakes are in reserve at the moment – has experience and plenty of skill so when we reach the second and third Tests that might have bearing with this series.”
Jermaine Blackwood’s 95 underpinned West Indies’ successful chase of 200 on day five at The Ageas Bowl since the tourists won just their second Test away from home since beating England at Headingley in 2017.
Skipper Jason Holder acquired six wickets in England’s first innings, while Shannon Gabriel bagged nine wickets in the match, including two on the evening of day four since the hosts lost 5-30 at hand control back once again to Holder’s men.
Hussain added: “It’s ideal for West Indies on a wide variety of levels. They deserve it for coming over to England [amid the coronavirus pandemic] and doing what they have had to – quarantine at Emirates Old Trafford after which come to the Ageas Bowl and be in a bubble.
“Winning that way was positively phenomenal – and that’s why it absolutely was an important win. Imagine doing all that and then losing after bossing this game. They would then have driven as much as Manchester thinking ‘we did all the right things and we are 1-0 down’.
England vs W Indies
July 16, 2020, 10:30am
“They will now think ‘our country are very pleased with us and we are one win from retaining the Wisden Trophy’. It means a lot to lots of West Indians watching right back at home.
“Often a side mirrors a captain which West Indies side mirror their impressive captain.
“He called for discipline and that he got discipline with the ball. He said get us a par score with the bat once we have the bowling attack and they did that. They deserved to win, they played exemplary cricket.
“They hadn’t played for six months, only had two warm-up games, but Gabriel had the fitness to bowl the match-turning spell on day four. It was quite brilliant.”
Watch day one of many second #raisethebat Test go on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 10.30am on Thursday.