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NASSER HUSSAIN on what England must NOT do – and whether we should ditch the toss


England were left to lick their wounds after suffering their worst defeat since 1934 in losing to India by 434 runs in the third Test in Rajkot.

India’s crushing victory put them 2-1 up in the series with two matches to play but England captain Ben Stokes was unrepentant about their Bazball approach.

As England try and put this latest humiliation behind them as quickly as possible and focus on Friday’s fourth Test in Ranchi, ex-England captain NASSER HUSSAIN answers your burning questions.

Why does Joe Root keep throwing his wicket away? And should he bowl less too? It must be so draining in the heat

Alan Corkland, Herts

I’m not sure he keeps throwing his wicket away, Alan. Root’s stats in the last year have been pretty good but he is having a difficult tour. 

Joe Root got out attempting to reverse ramp Jasprit Bumrah, sparking an England collapse

Joe Root got out attempting to reverse ramp Jasprit Bumrah, sparking an England collapse

Bumrah could hardly believe Root had attempted such an ill-advised shot and India capitalised

Bumrah could hardly believe Root had attempted such an ill-advised shot and India capitalised

His reverse-ramp in the first innings in Rajkot is a shot he plays a lot and gets a lot of runs with but, as I wrote on Monday, I think he could have played the situation better. 

I have wondered about him bowling too much. It’s almost like he’s paying the price for England having inexperienced spinners. Ben Stokes does need him but he must also look after him.

After the second Test you said England will stick by Jonny Bairstow, but surely we should be worried about him now?

Paul Hoyle, Birmingham

Hi Paul. He hasn’t got runs and England need an experienced player like him to make them, it’s as simple as that. 

I would give him the next two Tests and make a decision at the end of the series. Dharamsala will be his 100th if he plays. 

He epitomised Bazball when it first came in but that was a while ago now. When Jonny has a point to prove he invariably proves it.

Jonny Bairstow endured another tough match in this series but should retain his place

Jonny Bairstow endured another tough match in this series but should retain his place

Tom Hartley and Rehan Ahmed took 5-380 between them in Rajkot. Have India worked them out?

Catherine Smith, London

Catherine, I said all along that India should play England on good pitches that spin a bit, as we saw in Rajkot, because if you prepare surfaces that turn big it brings England’s inexperienced spinners into it. 

The bowler’s control of length doesn’t have to be immaculate when it’s spinning big but when it’s flatter you need to have great control of length. 

You only have to look at the discrepancy in length between Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav compared to England’s young pair and control is something they have to work on.

Are the current management too loyal to players who are woefully out of form?

Tony Simper, Cyprus

No, Tony. We cannot return to the 80s and 90s when England went round in circles and kept picking the next cab off the rank while players out of the side were always better than those in it. 

India historically is one of the hardest places, if not the hardest with Australia, to tour and you have to give people time. It can take so long for a player to get up to international standard you can’t just bin them off after two or three poor games.

Is Ben Stokes right to question some of the DRS calls in this series?

Gary Field, Chelmsford, Essex

Technology can be fallible but I’ve always been very strong on the fact I like the DRS and I also like umpire’s call. Look at the shemozzle with VAR in football. It’s just not like that in cricket. 

Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum went to see match referee Geoff Crowe over DRS calls

Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum went to see match referee Geoff Crowe over DRS calls

Stokes made his feelings known and wants to get rid of the umpire's call element of reviews

Stokes made his feelings known and wants to get rid of the umpire’s call element of reviews

Stokes and others like Virat Kohli may want to get rid of it but umpire’s call is not there to protect the officials it’s there because of the margin of error in the technology. 

Bear in mind, also, there have been a couple of changes in the system and the ball can now clip the top of the bails. 

The lbws for Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley in the third Test did look high but they have increased the height by 1.3 centimetres. 

One thing I will agree on with Ben. He said the visual of Crawley’s dismissal showed the ball missing the stumps. If that’s the case you can’t have that.

Was Ollie Robinson a waste of a selection? Matthew Potts is quicker and took lots of wickets on the England Lions tour.

Alan Robson, Richmond, North Yorkshire

Alan, you have to be careful in comparing the pitches used for this Test series and those the Lions played on in Ahmedabad. 

We at Sky spoke to Ian Bell, who was with the Lions as a consultant, and he said the pitches they played on helped the seamers a bit. Again, you’re a better player if you’re out of the side. 

Robinson bowled some magical spells in Pakistan last winter on some of the flattest pitches I’ve ever seen. He is a highly skilled bowler.

Ollie Robinson bowls in the nets during the India series - but should he have been picked?

Ollie Robinson bowls in the nets during the India series – but should he have been picked?

Why can’t England bowl at the tail? What should their plan be to India’s tailenders?

Paula George, Paignton, Devon

Generally, Paula, you need extra space or mystery spin against the tail. 

Rehan Ahmed is often saved for the tail. The key is getting to them before the bowlers are knackered. 

If England had taken their catches in the first innings in Rajkot the tail-enders would have been in at 200 not 400.

How enthralled were you by the fireworks from Yashasvi Jaiswal, with Sarfaraz Khan also shining on his Test debut?

Niharika Raina, New Delhi

Absolutely brilliant, Niharika. A couple of weeks ago India perhaps looked vulnerable without Virat Kohli and KL Rahul but this just shows the depth in their batting. 

Jaiswal is a fabulous story. I’ve walked around those maidans in Mumbai and seen the talent there. That’s where he started and with hunger and desire has got to the very top. He has hunger for big runs too. 

Yashasvi Jaiswal jumps for joy after making his double century in the third Test in Rajkot

Yashasvi Jaiswal jumps for joy after making his double century in the third Test in Rajkot

Rather than England saying India have learnt from them they can learn from him how to win Test matches. Sarfaraz was very impressive too. 

It’s not a Newsflash – India produce, fine, fine batters.

Ranchi has only hosted two Tests. How do teams prepare for a match at a ground with such limited information?

Mohammad Mujahid, Leyton, East London

It seems like a bat first pitch from looking at previous matches there, like most of them are in India. Talk to the locals. 

England had Dinesh Karthik as a consultant on the Lions tour which is perhaps something they lacked during the World Cup. DK and others like Ravi Shastri wouldn’t be one-eyed and parochial if you asked their advice. 

They wouldn’t stuff you. Otherwise just look at the pitch and don’t pre-judge it as other England teams and captains, including myself, have done in the past.

Ben Stokes has plenty to ponder ahead of the fourth Test in Ranchi beginning on Friday

Ben Stokes has plenty to ponder ahead of the fourth Test in Ranchi beginning on Friday 

The story of the first three Tests was – win toss, bat first, win the match. Is it time to get rid of the toss and let the away side decide what to do?

Kim Biggs, Surrey

I’m not a massive fan of that, Ken. In the first Test England had a deficit of 190 and still managed to win. 

The toss has been important but I don’t think it’s been pivotal in the results. It’s been the side who have done the basics of the game best who have won. 

This series has been played on three excellent pitches so far.

P.S. I hear my old mate Bumble has got Covid again and has been ruled out of commentating on the fourth Test for talkSPORT. So sorry to hear that. Go well Bumble and we look forward to listening to you again soon….



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