England squad surprises Hussain


Former England captain Nasser Hussain has described the England squad for the first Test against Pakistan as a surprise.

Hussain, admitted to not having seen a lot of county cricket but was caught off guard by the selections of Gary Ballance and Toby Roland-Jones.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Hussain said: "It's a bit of a surprise selection,

"Not many people were talking about Ballance this summer and Roland-Jones, to be honest, I haven't seen a lot of in red-ball cricket, so it is difficult to judge.

"It's in no way a dreadful selection, but I would have gone differently, I have said that all along. Buttler is too good a talent to have just carrying the drinks or out playing in county cricket.

"Buttler hasn't played a lot of red-ball cricket since he was left out of the Test team, and the selectors obviously wanted to go for someone who has. Jos now needs to score a stack of runs for Lancashire, although it looks like he might be injured for a while.

"The selectors are showing a bit of continuity by picking Ballance. He was the reserve batsman in the squad in South Africa, plus he scored a very timely hundred for Yorkshire against a decent Middlesex bowling attack last week.

"Andrew Strauss and Angus Fraser were there watching that, while Fraser also will have watched Roland-Jones week in, week out, for Middlesex and has obviously seen something in him.

The former skipper also feels that Durham allrounder Scott Borthwick was unfortunate to not get a call, saying: "Scott Borthwick can feel a little unlucky to miss out – he has got stacks of runs over a two-year period for Durham and although over the last couple of weeks he hasn't got as many runs as he would like, I wouldn't look too short-term.

"He is obviously a very fine player. But he bats at three, and the selectors might have made up their mind that they want to move Joe Root up to three in the order and therefore that possibly rules him out.

"Let's remember, though, that Ballance has a very good first class record, a very good Test record. Plus, the middle order should suit his technique.

"But there is no hiding place in international cricket, and the last time we saw him he had a bit of a problem against left-armers, and against the very full and very short ball.

"He will need to have ironed out those issues, because one thing is for certain, Pakistan will go at him with the short stuff and the fuller delivery. Plus, they have very good left-armers in their attack, particularly Mohammad Amir."

On the subject of Amir, Hussain believes he will get a lot of stick from the crowd, something he cannot complain about, but backed him to perform well, saying: "It will be very tough for Amir, he will get booed and have 'no-ball' shouted at him, but that comes with the mistake he made.

"He is a very fine cricketer, though – swings it late and at pace, and will get wickets in the series.

"He is part a very strong Pakistan attack, and they've obviously got the added threat of the legspinner, Yasir Shah, as well. The key for them is going to be getting runs; if their top order can get runs then they have got a chance in the series."

The former right-hander believes England will miss James Anderson, who has not recovered from a shoulder injury sustained during the 3rd Test against Sri Lanka, saying: "The fact that there is no Anderson for England in the first Test is a massive blow, especially as it's at Lord's.

"It's a very good pitch for batsmen, with not a lot of sideways movement, so there is definitely an opportunity for Pakistan to get runs on the board early in the series and have their batsman feeling good about things.

"The key for them will be playing the Duke ball and their top three setting games up, allowing the likes of Younus Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq – who I think is a very good player – to flourish lower down the order.

"They look a decent side, it will be a much harder job for England than what they have had against Sri Lanka so far this summer.

Anderson will be replaced by a debutant whichever way England play it, having to choose between Roland-Jones and Jake Ball: "It will be interesting to see which way England go to replace Jimmy; Roland-Jones on his home ground, or Jake Ball.

"Roland-Jones has been a steady wicket-taker for Middlesex over the last two or three years, bowling on some of those flat pitches at Lord's; he knows the ground and knows the slope.

"I would think Ball is probably just ahead of him in the pecking order though. When we saw him at the beginning of the season in the County Championship game we covered between Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, he looked a real prospect.

"He looks like someone who could benefit from being given a go, so as long as he has still got that rhythm and that form.

"One thing is for certain though, there is only one Jimmy, so it will be tough for England."

England take on Sri Lanka at Lord's on July 14 in the first of four Tests.