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England v Pakistan

‘Play him more like Anil Kumble’ – Nasser Hussain explains how England should play Yasir Shah

by Wisden Staff 3-minute read

Nasser Hussain urged the England batsmen to learn from their approach against Yasir Shah with tours to Sri Lanka and India coming up in the winter.

Yasir, who took two wickets, was the pick of the bowlers on what was a tough first day for Pakistan as England notched up 332 in the third Test with Zak Crawley, 171, and Jos Buttler, 87, remaining unbeaten.

Hussain, writing in his column for the Daily Mail, pointed out how the English batsmen were trying to play the Pakistan leg-spinner on the backfoot “as if he were Shane Warne”. He suggested they should instead approach him “more like Anil Kumble”, at least in the first innings of the Test.

“England have a winter of Test cricket in sub-continental conditions coming up against Sri Lanka and India if those tours go ahead, so they must learn from how they are playing Yasir Shah here,” Hussain wrote.

“For some reason, whether it is Joe Root or Ollie Pope, England have been going back to the leg-spinner and getting stuck on the crease. They are playing him as if he were Shane Warne but, in the first innings of a Test, they should play him more like Anil Kumble.

“Yasir will not bowl massive, turning deliveries on the first day. Instead, he has been setting batsmen up by going slow, slow and then producing a quicker, straighter delivery.

“And whether it’s his trajectory, action or whether England noticed Pakistan pushed the field back and were trying to hang back to hit deep cover-point for a single and get off strike, I don’t know. But a lot of batsmen are being trapped on the back foot.”

Hussain wrote that even Crawley, who looked at ease against every other bowler, was caught in two minds against Yasir, adding that Ravindra Jadeja could trouble the Englishmen if they don’t work on their approach before their subcontinent tour.

“Even Zak Crawley whose tempo was perfect in making his first Test century, was caught going back a couple of times until he realised he would be better off using his reach to get out in front of Yasir,” said Hussain. “It’s just something England will have to watch against spin because India’s Ravindra Jadeja, for one, can bowl quickly and trap batsmen on the crease.

“Pope is a very talented young batsman who has played spin excellently in his short time with England, being quick on his feet, busy and fully forward and back. But it’s just sometimes certain bowlers can impact your trigger movements and bamboozle you for a while. Yasir has done that to Pope in this series.

“It is different when the ball is turning and bouncing a lot, like it was at Old Trafford in the first Test, because then it is better to play him off the back foot. But on a first day pitch like we saw at the Ageas Bowl, you have to force yourself forward.”

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