Nasser Hussain believes England should ‘rethink’ their decision to rest Jonny Bairstow for the first two Tests against India.
Bairstow scored 47 and 35 not out in England’s victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle last week, and is currently 24 not out in the first innings of the second match.
The decision has already been made for Bairstow to miss the first and second Tests of England’s series against India, which starts on February 5, as the ECB look to give every player enough rest in a bumper year which includes 17 Test matches and a T20 World Cup.
But former captain Hussain says a ‘rethink’ may be wise given Bairstow has impressed in subcontinental conditions. England have often struggled in India and will be coming up against a team who pulled off an extraordinary 2-1 victory in Australia recently.
Hussain told Sky Sports: ‘I would say it’s a concern that one of England’s best three players of spin – I would say Bairstow is alongside Joe Root and Ben Stokes in that – has been given a boarding pass home and the others are going to Chennai. I’d have to rethink.
‘It must be an absolute nightmare what the players have been through [during these Covid times] – they had the whole of last summer and then had the IPL. Then it was South Africa, now Sri Lanka, then India and then IPL again.
‘I get that and I am not downplaying it at all – it must be a nightmare for the selectors – but should you have your best side for that first India Test?
‘It is that balancing act of being fair to the public and winning what’s in front of you and long-term planning all year.’
Hussain also says he would be tempted to play both James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the first Test against India in Chennai.
Broad impressed in the first Test against Sri Lanka – taking 3/20 in the first innings and bowling 11 maidens in the second – but was rested for the second match and made way for Anderson, who took 6-40 from 29 overs in a bowling masterclass.
Hussain said: ‘I would find it very difficult to go up to either Broad or Anderson in the first Test against India in Chennai and say “you are not playing but I’m playing [Dom] Bess”.
‘England’s seamers got 10 wickets at Galle [in Sri Lanka’s first innings of the second Test] and the spinners didn’t get one, so why are we leaving out one of our great seamers to play a second spinner who we’re not sure of?
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