LONDON: England need not moan about the condition of Indian pitches and instead rectify inconsistency in their spin department if they want positive results in the remaining two Tests against India, feels former captain Naseer Hussain.
Hussain said Dom Bess’ inability to maintain length has been the biggest issue for England, who suffered a massive 317-run defeat in the second Test to leave the series levelled at 1-1.
“England need to dust themselves off, not moan about the pitch, the toss, DRS, umpires or whatever and just try and rectify and improve in the areas they were found short – and knowing this side, I think that is exactly what they will do,” Hussain wrote in his column for ‘Sky Sports’.
“Even though they continue to get wickets, the biggest issue is the consistency in the spin department. It is not just this Test match, if you look back at Sri Lanka, Jack Leach and Dom Bess got wickets but Bess, in particular, was very inconsistent with his length.”
He said Indian spinners outperformed their England counterparts and even experienced Moeen Ali was lacking control of his deliveries though he was playing his first Test since the 2019 Ashes.
“Ali got eight wickets (in 2nd Test) and he bowled some real beauties, like the one to bowl Virat Kohli in first innings and got him out twice in the game – but Mo himself will admit that in first innings, he didn’t quite have the control and 4-128 is not what you’re looking for on such a minefield for the spinners.
“If you compare that to how India’s two spinners bowled and the control of Ravichandran Ashwin, they didn’t do anything magical, they just jammed it in there ball after ball,” said the 51-year-old Hussain, who played 96 Tests between 1990 and 2004.
“If you’re asking me the main reason why England lost the Test match, I would say if you look at India’s main two spinners – Ashwin and Axar Patel – they were more consistent than the England spinners.”
He, however, was careful not to be too critical of Ali who hasn’t played a Test since the 2019 Ashes and had COVID-19 on tour in Sri Lanka.
Hussain also said England batsmen will have to find a way to score and not just defend though the pitch looked extremely difficult.
“I can’t be overly critical of England’s batting. They can learn though; India had a batsman in Rohit Sharma who scored nearly 200 runs and bowling all-rounder Ashwin got a second-innings hundred on it so it was not impossible.
“England have got to look at that and ask what Rohit and Ashwin did so well to try and learn and improve.”
He said one of the pitches in the last two Tests may be another dust bowl and England have got to work out how they are going to play and improve on it.
“… this was a chastening defeat … but that’s what the challenge is playing away from home, the same way as it is when you go
India level Test series 1-1 with 317-run drubbing of England to Australia and we used to have to cope with the bounce at Perth.
“Or when players come to England and have to cope with the moving Dukes ball – it is part of being an all-round cricketer and occasionally you get pitches like that,” said the former captain.
He also made a general point that England cricket authorities will need to do more to help spinners become more consistent.
“When Somerset produce a pitch at Taunton like the one we’ve just seen in Chennai, they get docked points, then there is where and when we play our red-ball cricket.”