Nasser Hussain discusses whether the dry pitch in Barbados adds to England’s selection issues, swinging Dukes balls, when to rest players ahead of the World Cup and Ashes, and if Windies can put up a fight…
History tells you here in Barbados that in general seamers rule over the spinners, spin doesn’t have much of a threat, and there is usually a good covering of grass. Some great fast bowlers have been produced at this wonderful cricket stadium.
England would have done their stats and going into this game would have thought ‘we are going to play one spinner, go into an English plan and play all our seamers’.
However, when you get to the ground it looks a fairly ugly pitch, it looks patchy, dry and we’re two days out so it is obviously only going to get drier.
You would think looking at it without any statistics you would need two spinners on there, but how you get them in is the real question.
On the last tour you’re looking for reverse swing, using a lot of spin options, your seamers don’t have much of a role to play after 40 overs.
This Dukes ball is hard, it will swing for a lot longer and the outfield is pretty green. This ball will do a lot, as we have seen in the warm-up matches, for a lot longer.
That plays into hands of Stuart Broad and Sam Curran because if you play the extra spinner, unless you’re leaving a batter out, you’re going to have to leave one of those big seamers out.
Broad with this ball on this pitch, with a lovely breeze to work with, and Curran who has been absolutely outstanding ever since he came into the side.
The real test for Joe Root is not why he should leave people out, it is who is he brave enough to leave out. The problem with horses for courses is that they have all done well on their courses – now who does he leave out because someone is going to be really unlucky.
Last time England came out to the West Indies there were comments made about a mediocre Windies side. There have already been comments been made by people writing home saying we should win this 3-0, but the Windies at home are a very decent side.
They are down in the rankings, they were poor in India and Bangladesh, and their batters in particular have been struggling, but win the game that is in front of you.
Work on that confidence that Joe Root has got by winning that series 3-0 in Sri Lanka. Let the powers that be behind the scenes, like Ashley Giles and Trevor Bayliss, have a long-term plan. There will have to be some rotating and resting with a long World Cup and Ashes coming up.
You look at Jos Buttler, Root, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes, the guys that play all formats, they will need to be rotated and rested but not first up in the Caribbean at this great venue; not with all the Brits that come in. Take this game seriously and try and win it.
The Windies have a good bowling attack, the likes of Shannon Gabriel in particular. Sometimes he looks disinterested but as far as talent goes, he is huge. Jason Holder their captain was exceptional in 2018.
Their problem has been getting runs on the board. In our build up to the game we will talk about Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope. They scored brilliant hundreds at Headingley, chased down 300 against England, but since then they have done nothing.
Brathwaite has averaged six in his last couple of series and Hope hasn’t scored another century, so their problem is in their batting.
That is why they have gone back to Darren Bravo. He averages around 40 and has been around a long time, but he hasn’t played Test cricket for a couple of years.
If the Windies get runs on the board they will give England a run for their money – but that is a big if!
Watch England’s tour of the Caribbean live on Sky Sports this winter, starting with the first Test in Barbados from 1pm on Wednesday.
(c) Sky News 2019: Nasser Hussain feels dry pitch could convince England to pick two spinners