Nasser Hussain has lambasted England’s batsmen for abandoning conventional methods after a shocking collapse at Edgbaston left them on the verge of defeat to New Zealand.
Joe Root’s side crumpled to 76-7 before tailenders Mark Wood and Olly Stone at least prevented an innings defeat, but they look destined to lose the match and the series when play resumes on Sunday.
Sky Sports pundit Hussain insists English batsmen urgently need to re-examine their techniques and return to basics – not only at Test level, but throughout the county game – if they are to improve in future.
“There seems to have been a reinvention of the wheel out there with batting,” said Hussain. “Techniques out there that everyone else who has played the game before – they are all wrong and we are right.
“We’re going to have these odd little techniques, we’re going to have the bat coming across it, we’re going to stand funny, we’re going to swing outside our off stump because everyone else in the history of the game – Viv Richards, you are wrong, and we are right.
“I’m not seeing ‘we are right’ at the moment, whether it be in Sri Lanka where Joe Root carried them, whether it be in India and they don’t have the excuse of the pitches turning here.
“Whether it being the seaming ball or the spinning ball, they are right and everyone else is wrong. And I don’t see a young batting line-up.
“I see Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Root and Pope. There’s no one missing in that top five – then come Stokes and Buttler. They’ve got all the coaches, all the backroom staff – please, just get back to playing normally and getting a first innings score.
“The other thing is, these are the lads that are getting the runs in county cricket. If you picked the five who are getting runs, these are them.
“So please, have a look at your game and more importantly have a look at the opposition – they are batting how you’re supposed to. It’s just chalk and cheese.
“Technically gifted, sound batsmen playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played – let the ball come to you, leave it well and play with a straight bat. Six changes they’ve made and they still look such a sharp outfit.”
While Hussain acknowledged that the quality of pitches in county cricket has been a factor in England’s dismal showing with the bat, he is also unimpressed by what might seem to be an over-reliance on coaching and outside help.
“I think there’s almost too much money in the game that we’re going to have a batting, eating, psychological, bowling, fielding, captaincy coach for everything,” he added.
“Take ownership of your own game. Look at what Trent Boult’s done in this series – he rushed over here to play in this game.
“How many England players, from quarantine, from rotation, have said ‘I want to play at Edgbaston’?
“Jonny Bairstow, when he was in Sri Lanka, batting well, should have been knocking down the door, saying to the selectors ‘I don’t want to be left out’. Chris Woakes here, he hasn’t played for six months.
“Yes, the pitches are not good enough – if you improve those in county cricket, technique will improve and long batting will improve. But don’t let’s keep making excuses for a batting line-up that continues to fail.”
Fellow pundit and former England batsman David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd was in agreement with Hussain’s assessment – pointing out that the home side’s descent to 122-9 at stumps, an overall lead of just 37, took place on a relatively benign surface.
He said: “There was a total lack of technique. It was shocking – there will be lots to be said.
“They’ve been out of the game from start to finish, on a placid pitch. It’s not good enough.
“The England bowlers are disciplined. I thought they did wonderfully well to get New Zealand out for 388, but then the batsmen have to show up – and they haven’t. It just won’t do and they’ve got to improve.
“I keep going back to technique. You’ve got to be tight in your strokeplay.
“I’m like a broken record, I’ve seen all the great players of the last 50-60 years, and they’ve all had a tight defence.”
Watch day four of the second Test between England and New Zealand from 10.15am, Sunday on Sky Sports Cricket.