Keaton Jennings and Liam Dawson have been picked to replace the injured duo of Haseeb Hameed and Zafar Ansari in England’s touring party in India, and I can’t say I’m surprised by either inclusion.
Jack Leach might again feel a bit miffed as to how he was left out but it was his first big year, so let’s see if he’s going to be a consistent performer. He’s had conditions in his favour at Taunton but another good year will have him in the forefront of the selectors’ minds.
Daws has a bit more with the bat than Leach and is more experienced. He’s more of a dual-role cricketer and a better bowler to left-handers when he goes around the wicket.
He knows the system too, he has been in and around the team and will not be overawed about the occasion. He has the ability to go past the bat but you also have to feel a bit for Gareth Batty.
To bring in another spinner shows the selectors still aren’t content with the ones already out there. I’m a big fan of Gareth, I just feel his lines haven’t been quite right, allowing the batsmen to milk him a little bit too easily. He’s bowled good lengths but he just needs to go a touch wider.
Jennings had a superb year, being the top run scorer in county cricket and has gone through his qualification period to play for England.
He’s one of the nicest blokes you’ll ever meet, one of the most respectful people you’ll ever meet and has such talent. His dad, Ray, was a tough disciplinarian as a coach, an unbelievable wicketkeeper standing back – he’s taken some of the best catches I’ve ever seen from old footage.
For Keaton to have scored the amount of runs he did, at Durham of all places where everybody knows that it’s as challenging as anywhere early in the season, is remarkable.
I feel for Ben Duckett though. He opened the batting in his first few Tests and has then just been discarded. The selectors obviously had a gut feeling for Ben, and sometimes they have to do that.
Yes, there are technical issues. When he’s defending he seems to have brought his foot away and the high class bowling has uncovered that. I still think it’s a mindset issue though.
Ben is one of the best sweepers in world cricket. He sweeps, he slog sweeps, he reverse sweeps and I think, if he was playing for Northants, he wouldn’t be blocking the majority of these balls, he would be sweeping them.
That’s why I think it’s a mindset issue. You need to find your way of getting the ball into an area and scoring runs. I respect the way people coach but when I heard Alastair Cook say he wanted the team to bat time, that’s wrong – people have to play their own way.
I was guilty in my younger days of telling people how to play and telling captains what I think they should do. But it gets you nowhere, you need to trust players and let them do it their own way. That’s why Haseeb Hameed has been successful – he’s been able to play his own way.
There are technical issues with Hameed and I think he will always be hit because he plays with low hands. That will be focused on even more when he plays on bouncier pitches against quicker bowlers.
You look at the likes of Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick and Nick Knight – they were all successful because they had high hands and dominated the short ball.
There are only two Tests to play now so England have to go all out. You can only control one ball at a time, so keep winning the next ball.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, December 2 2016
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