‘Pick and play as if the score was 2-2 and they have to win to clinch the Ashes.’
England must treat every Test match like an Ashes series decider as part of their red-ball reset, former captain Nasser Hussain said, as their long-term planning and rest-and-rotation policy has weakened them in the game’s longest format.
England are 3-0 down in the Ashes series with only pride to play for in the remaining two Tests in Sydney and Hobart.
It has been an abysmal 12 months in red-ball cricket for England, who lost four series in a year for the first time. Never before have they lost nine Tests in a calendar year.
Captain Joe Root and coach Chris Silverwood have come in for heavy criticism, with pressure on the pair growing since England lost the third Test in Melbourne by an innings and 14 runs as Australia took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.
“England have had to look after their players in COVID times, both physically and mentally, but for all their good intentions the extent of their long-term planning and rest-and-rotation policy has cost them test matches,” Hussain said in his column for Daily Mail.
“The initial reset has to see them looking down at the pitch ahead of any test and selecting the best team for that game, as if it were the World Test Championship final. Pick and play as if the score was 2-2 and they have to win to clinch the Ashes.
“A reset also means changing that mentality on the pitch and making better decisions off it. Australia is a hard enough place to go at the best of times without the mistakes Root and Chris Silverwood have made.”
No England batter has scored a century in the three Tests so far and Hussain said it is a “serious problem” that needed to be addressed, starting with the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground from Wednesday.
“It will be extremely difficult at the SCG. They are 3-0 down, their brains will be scrambled and COVID is all around them,” Hussain added.
“The players’ job in the last two tests is for the batters who do play to find a way … That red-ball reset has to be made in the short term as well as the long.”
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