England Promoting 'Short Termism' - Hussain Slams Selection Policy
Former captain Nasser Hussain said England were right in dropping Jonny Bairstow from the Test squad for the tour of New Zealand, but believed Ben Foakes should have been the replacement wicketkeeper and not Jos Buttler.
Bairstow made only 214 runs from 10 innings in the Ashes, while Buttler managed a little more with 247 runs. Writing for the Daily Mail, Hussain said the selection 'doesn't add up'.
"One confusing element to the squad, though, is that I can't say that Jos Buttler is a better keeper than Jonny Bairstow. I don't believe he is. Buttler might not even be Lancashire's second-choice keeper if he were to play county cricket. Sure, maybe leave Bairstow out for a better keeper like Ben Foakes. But this switch?" he said.
"Bairstow averaged 23.77 as a wicketkeeper-batsman in the recently-concluded Ashes series; Buttler 24.7 as a batsman. Buttler would no doubt argue that he got stuck with the tail a few times but that goes with the territory of batting at number seven. It doesn't add up."
Hussain was also critical of England wavering between Craig Overton and Chris Woakes, suggesting it showed lack of foresight.
"I have always said that, with any selection you make, you should be looking at what might happen one step down the line. Take Craig Overton, for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford," he said. "They picked him and left Chris Woakes out, even though Woakes' bowling statistics in English conditions are magnificent. Then, they picked a tour squad (for New Zealand) for which they left out Overton, and went for Woakes, whose stats away from home are abysmal.
"They have either got the initial Overton selection wrong, Woakes' winter pick wrong, or arguably both."
Hussain believed England's selectors, led by Ed Smith, were promoting 'short termism' and not making long term calls.
"What I don't like is making one-off selections for Tests, something I have felt this particular England selection panel do. In any selection you make, think of the repercussions," he argued.
"Ed Smith clearly takes a different view. He tries to analyse selection in every single game but that can over-complicate things and promote short-termism. It is then hard to make longer-term judgments on where the side is.
"They've probably seen this as an opportunity 'to have a look at people'. It's not a saying I have ever liked. Once you get selected for England it's because people believe you are an international player, based on what you have shown in county cricket."
As for Bairstow, Hussain said he should use his off-time to work on his technique.
"When you sulk, people tend to make note and it can be held against you when you do not produce the performance levels required. Basically, they have chosen this opportunity to kick him up the backside," said Hussain.
"To be honest, I admired the fact he dug his heels in last winter. He'd worked hard on his wicketkeeping and he was angry when he was selected as a specialist batsman. But if you go down that road, it is imperative when you get the gloves back that you put in some performances.
"For such a high-quality player, he gets bowled out a lot. He's stubborn; believing nothing is wrong makes him the cricketer he is; but he does need to address some technical issues. He has always been a real fighter, someone who lives to prove people wrong. He must take this chance to do exactly that."