Former England captain Nasser Hussain said that captain Joe Root‘s tactics on a flat pitch on Day Four of England vs India Test at The Oval were mystifying. He added that instead of bowling Moeen Ali more, Root persisted with James Anderson and Ollie Robinson.
“I was mystified by Joe Root’s tactics between lunch and tea,” wrote Hussain in his column for Daily Mail on Monday. “On a flat pitch, and on the fourth afternoon — probably the hottest of the series — every other team in the world would have been bowling their frontline spinner. Instead, Root kept flogging seamers Anderson and Ollie Robinson, who have been going hard at India all series. Whether he had lost some faith in Moeen because he was going at four an over, I don’t know.”
Hussain commented that any other team would have bowled their main spinner more in similar conditions.
“It’s also true he has bowled very little with the red ball this season. But it just feels as if a lack of trust in spin bowling is so endemic in the English game. If Australia had been playing, there is no doubt Nathan Lyon would have been bowling his off-breaks in the same situation. If it had been West Indies, we’d have been watching Roston Chase,” Hussain wrote.
The former England captain further pointed out that when India came out to bowl in the final session, Ravindra Jadeja‘s slow left-armers were introduced into the attack as early as the eighth over.
“Sure enough, his (Jadeja’s)first ball spun from the rough outside Burns’s off stump. If you’re the spinner in this side, you should be doing a job for your captain on the fourth afternoon. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
Hussain added that he had a chat with Anderson and felt that conditions were riper for a spinner to be given the ball.
“I spoke to Anderson on Sunday morning, and he said there was no swing, no seam, and no wobble seam. Cutters were doing nothing, and there was no reverse out there, because the outfield is so lush, so one side of the ball can’t be roughed up. Put it this way: it looked nothing like 1976, when the outfield was brown, and Michael Holding was spearing exocets at the base of Tony Greig’s stumps. The ball was going gun-barrel straight on Sunday, which is when you throw it to your spinner.”
The 53-year-old concluded by saying, “And when Root finally gave Moeen and himself a trundle, they struck immediately, in successive overs. On an extremely flat Oval pitch, they needed their captain and their No 1 spinner to be on top of their games — and neither quite managed it.”