Nasser Hussain is baffled by England’s decision to leave Stuart Broad out of the first Test against the West Indies, questioning whether his former side took the visitors seriously enough.
The West Indies claimed one of its greatest Test wins since the 1980s on Sunday by beating England by four wickets in Southampton to take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series. England hasn’t lost a home Test series to the West Indies since 1988.
England was clumsy from start to finish, making just 204 runs in the first innings before dropping three catches and missing a simple run-out in the last to put the West Indies win beyond doubt.
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Windies claim memorable win
But Hussain says England started making mistakes well before the first ball, erring in both its attitude and selection calls.
“Can England honestly tell themselves that they have treated West Indies the same way they would have treated Australia?” the former England captain wrote in a column for the Daily Mail.
“I don’t believe they can – and it makes me wonder if they’ve made a mistake they keep making against this West Indies side. They underestimated them, despite the Wisden Trophy currently being in possession of Jason Holder.”
Veteran seamer Broad was left out of the Test for Mark Wood despite being fully fit and having 485 wickets to his name.
One eye is on the future with an Ashes in Australia rapidly approaching in 2021-22, although Broad’s long-term bowling partner James Anderson was still picked, while Wood took just two wickets for the Test.
Hussain wrote that had Broad been picked, Stokes may have chosen to bowl after winning the toss and the course of the Test could have been altered entirely.
“Without Broad in the side, the decision at the toss becomes 50-50, as we saw on Sunday, when England might have won had they taken their chances,” Hussain wrote.
Bumbling Poms woeful fielding
Another former England captain, Geoffrey Boycott, also believes Broad should have been picked.
“The selectors and captain will say they have one eye on winning the Ashes in Australia in just over a year. I get that – and every cricket supporter understands the thinking,” Boycott wrote in The Telegraph. “But in practice England need to win Test matches.
“Winning creates confidence and a good vibe goes through the team. When you win it lifts the spirits of everyone connected with Team England.
“(Chief selector) Ed Smith can say whatever he wants – but losing, I can tell him, is not a good feeling. It can put more pressure on the players for them to tense up the next time they play.”
Boycott added that he would rotate Wood and Jofra Archer to keep one fresh at all times while giving England at least one express option per Test.
Meanwhile, Ben Stokes — who was captain for the Test in Joe Root’s absence — stood by the decisions to leave out Broad and to bat first.
“We’ve got to be good enough to put runs on board. We just didn’t quit manage to grasp the game like we might have done,” he said.
“We’ll look back and understand that when we get into positions like we did in both innings, we need to be really ruthless. If we had another 60 or 80 runs to play with, it would have been a different game.”
On Broad, he added: “If I was to regret that, I don’t think it sends the right message to other guys.
“We made a decision based around thinking pace was going to stand us a better place. Stuart is a fantastic bowler. He understands the reasons why.
“We lost, but I’m not going to look back with any regrets. It shows that we’re in a great position to pick so many bowlers and leave someone like Stuart out.”
The series continues at Old Trafford on Thursday.