Former England captain Naseer Hussain believes the selectors have made a mistake by deciding to rest Jonny Bairstow for the first two Tests of the four-match series against India, starting February 5 in Chennai.
Hussain has called on the England selectors to “rethink” their decision. Bairstow scored 47 and 35 not out in England’s win over Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle last week and looked in good touch again in the first innings of the second Test before getting dismissed for a patient 28.
The decision to rest Bairstow is part of England and Wales Cricket Board’s player management policy, which stresses on giving adequate rest to every English cricketer in a packed calendar year, which includes 17 Tests and the ICC T20 World Cup.
“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,” Hussain was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. “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?
“Should you be resting or rotating for India or do you turn up to the first Test of that India series, an iconic series, and pick your best side?”
The 52-year-old former batsman said the national selectors also owe an answer to English fans by not picking the best side against an in-form Indian team, high on confidence after its incredible 2-1 series win in Australia.
“England fans switching on when it is turning and England are 20-2 may well have the argument. ‘I want to see our best batsman against spin, or one of them, in Bairstow’. If the next Test after this series was Brisbane in the Ashes, would we send our best side? So why when it’s the first Test against India, one of the great sides, aren’t we sending our best team?”
“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 added.
Former England star Kevin Pietersen also echoed that sentiment on Twitter.
The ECB had said in their statement that, “The National Selectors have provided a block of rest for Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood. The three players, who are currently in Sri Lanka, will miss the first and second Tests in India. This is consistent with the selection policy of finding a block of rest for all multi-format players at some point during post-Christmas winter schedule.”
England’s squad announced for first two Tests:
Joe Root (Yorkshire) (captain), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Dom Bess (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire).
James Bracey (Gloucestershire), Mason Crane (Hampshire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Amar Virdi (Surrey).
With PTI inputs