ASK NASSER: Have England blown their big chance? Is Joe Root just not suited to Bazball? And can we still trust the DRS technology?
England and India will square off in the third Test after Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum’s men failed to pull off back-to-back miracles in the second Test.
Having been bowled out for 292 at the start of the week in their 106-run defeat, they were unable to replicate the magic displayed in Hyderabad which saw them claim an important opening win.
But as the dust settles on the teams’ ordeal in Visakhapatnam, and preparations begin for the third Test in Rajkot, former England captain NASSER HUSSAIN answers your burning questions.
Q. Let’s face it, England have never had a better chance to go 2-0 up in India. It’s only going one way now, isn’t it? – Mike Hartley, Blackpool
Not necessarily. England played very good cricket in the second test and so far it hasn’t reminded me of the last tour in India when they won the first match and then lost the series 3-1. But I think India will get stronger, absolutely.
England failed to pull off a second successive miracle on Indian soil in the second Test
The Indian team will only get stronger with the possible return of the talismanic Virat Kohli
It was an opportunity for England, but don’t forget that they were also missing players such as Jack Leach and Harry Brook. And Joe Root couldn’t bowl in the second innings. Yes, it will get tougher for England – with KL Rahul coming back and possibly Virat Kohli – but that was always going to be the case.
Q. So, was Ben Stokes right to be happy with the performance in Vizag? – Dannika Corby, Sydney
The one thing about Ben is that he is always honest. Like when he basically said England were rubbish during the World Cup. So he is right to be satisfied with much of what has gone on here. Did they bowl India out twice for subpar scores? Yes. Did they bat well and get close to 300 in the last innings in India? Yes, this is a very good effort.
The trouble came in England’s first innings and it was due to one exceptional spell from Jasprit Bumrah, as good as I have seen in the Subcontinent from a fast bowler. Many English batsmen got in and out. This is what they need to fix.
Ben Stokes will be proud of the effort his team put in in the first two Tests of their series
Jasprit Bumrah enjoyed threatening the English batsmen during an exceptional spell
Q. Joe Root and Ollie Pope are too good to play frenetic innings. They don’t have to play baseball, do they? – Zoe Ennals, Melbourne
Good question. Pope has always seemed frantic. Watching him in the first innings of this match, you would never have known he made 196 in the last one. It’s just him.
But the two of them have good statistics under Bazball. Root averages 53 during this regimen. I think Joe in particular doesn’t need to be too aggressive. He has to get the balance right.
Q. We had two cracking Tests in front of big crowds. Should we see the bigger picture and not get upset if England lose? – Jamie Milne, Edinburgh
Results are important and you should be upset if you lose. Think of all the traveling England fans in India and those at home who get up at 4am to watch or listen. But they also want good, entertaining cricket and that’s what they got. There were eight brilliant days of Test cricket and if you throw in the West Indies’ win over Australia in Brisbane, it was a good start to the year.
Joe Root is able to get the balance right and does not need out-and-out aggression to play the team’s Bazball
Q. Stokes raised eyebrows by saying ‘tech got that one wrong’ after Zak Crawley was given lbw in the second Test. Can we no longer trust DRS? – Matt Davies, Barrow
I think DRS is brilliant. Look at VAR and how football doesn’t get it right. This was not the case in cricket. Sometimes technology is not 100 percent accurate. That’s why we have referee’s call.
This decision did seem a little strange and most of us would have thought it was cutting leg stump. But the game is about angles – and the left-hander in Kuldeep Yadav bowling over the wicket does create an angle – so I don’t think we should doubt the technology.
Q. England are now off to Abu Dhabi for eight days for some R and R. Couldn’t they stay in India? – Dan Sayers, Leamington Spa
They can – but they’ve got a lot of cricket coming up this year, so any time they can be with their families and relax in an environment they feel comfortable in is good for me. It could be a cauldron in India because there is such a love for cricket. The moment these guys leave their hotel room, they are robbed. They have been successful in part because they can relax and get away from it.
Brendon McCullum will take his players to the Gulf state for some family time and needed R&R
Q. Virat Kohli is going to come back to be the hero. He’ll love it, won’t he? – Grant Scandling, Sevenoaks
He would! The one thing about India is that they have been a bit sloppy in three of their four innings. I know Rahul Dravid and he would have marked inside at some of the dismissals so far. India will think, ‘We keep sniffing England here, let’s be more ruthless’. And the one thing that Kohli is is absolutely ruthless.
I hope he comes back because the only thing this series has been missing is the battle between Kohli and Jimmy Anderson. I’m looking forward to it.
Q. If England go with two spinners and two seamers in Rajkot, or three and one, who do you pick? – Matt Deighton, Adelaide
That’s their problem. If it was Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, England would go two and two. But these three spinners are so young and inexperienced that they will have good days and bad days. So Stokes has to play almost all three. I have to think about this and look at the field in Rajkot before I answer.
Q. If Harry Brook comes back, is he a straight swap for Jonny Bairstow? – Ben Hughes, Huddersfield
No not yet. Bairstow is an excellent player and only needs to change one of his starting points. It wasn’t just him. All the English batsmen got into Vizag and came out again. Jonny will know that if Brook does go to India, he will have to be clinical and get a big score. But this England team has shown faith in players and I expect them to show faith in Bairstow.
Harry Brook’s return does not automatically mean the end of Jonny Bairstow’s stint in India
Q. What will happen next? – Z Khan, Delhi
We’re going to have some fun! India are favourites, I said that before a ball was bowled, but the next three matches will be fun because of the way this England team is playing. And because India is going to get better.
Now I’m not involved, I’m not worried about results. I’m concerned about the bigger picture and future of Test cricket, so I’m glad it’s been so fun so far.