Nasser Hussain picks England’s wicketkeeper between Ben Foakes and Jonny Bairstow for India Test series




In the imminent five-match Test series against India starting from Thursday (January 25), the choice of the wicketkeeper-batter role for England becomes a focal point, and former captain Nasser Hussain provides his discerning perspective on the dilemma between Ben Foakes and Jonny Bairstow. As England seeks to replicate its historic 2012 series win in India, the challenge is accentuated by the team’s recent ordinary performances on Indian soil.

England’s evolution and the quest for team balance for India Tests

England, having been the last visiting side to secure a red-ball series win in India under Alastair Cook‘s captaincy in 2012, faces a new era with the dynamic leadership of Ben Stokes. The team’s journey has witnessed a transformation in recent years, marked by evolving strategies and a different team composition. With an eye on achieving the right team balance, England are confronted with the crucial decision of selecting the ideal wicketkeeper, a role entrusted to either Foakes or Bairstow for the upcoming series.

Also READ: Michael Atherton provides his verdict on the potential winner of the India-England Test series

Nasser Hussain’s choice between Ben Foakes and Jonny Bairstow

Hussain advocated for Foakes to assume the gloveman role in the Test series against India. Despite Foakes being lauded as the best wicketkeeper in the world by captain Stokes, he found himself on the bench throughout the Ashes series in 2023, where England opted for Bairstow in the playing XI.

Hussain acknowledged the challenge of balancing the side, especially with Stokes unable to bowl. In the scenario of significant spin, he contends that selecting Foakes becomes crucial, particularly with the absence of Harry Brook. Hussain believed that this strategic choice allows England to accommodate both Ollie Pope and Bairstow as specialist batters, recognizing the importance of having the best wicketkeeper when facing sharply turning deliveries.

“Stokes not being able to bowl makes it hard to balance the side, but if it does spin big, I’d play Ben Foakes, particularly now Brook is missing and England can fit in both Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow as specialist batters, because you need your best keeper when the ball is turning sharply,” Hussain was quoted as saying by Sportskeeda.

Alternative approach

However, Hussain also contemplated an alternative strategy for England. Considering the opportunity to exploit India’s conditions, he explored the prospect of playing an extra bowler and entrusting wicket-keeping duties to Bairstow.

“The pitches are flatter than most are expecting, I would not rule out giving Bairstow the gloves and playing an extra bowler. Most of all, England should not go in with any pre-conceptions,” the 55-year-old concluded.

Also READ: Nasser Hussain predicts the favourites between India and England to clinch the five-match Test series


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