Speaking on Sky Sports Cricket, Nasser Hussain said that he believes Chris Woakes should now be ahead of James Anderson in England’s fast-bowling pecking order.
Anderson has long been established as one of England’s greatest fast bowlers. No seam bowler from any country has taken more Test wickets, and until this summer, his potency in home conditions has been unmatched.
However, in the four Tests England have played, he has been outbowled not just by his long-time new-ball partner Stuart Broad, but by all-rounder Woakes too. The senior man has six wickets at 41.16 from three Tests this summer, while the younger player has 15 wickets at 15.80 from the same number of games. He also made a match-winning 84 not out in the fourth innings of the first Test against Pakistan to make himself, in Hussain’s eyes, undroppable.
In the past two games, with Stokes’ bowling fitness in question, England have been forced to field four quicks, and so have found space for both bowlers. But with the vice-captain having taken two key wickets late on the third evening, it appears he will once again be able to play as an all-rounder come the second Test in Southampton. Hussain said that, with England not needing to field five quicks, Anderson should miss out in place of Broad, Woakes, and one of Jofra Archer or Mark Wood.
“I think this is probably the first time I’ve said this in my career as a broadcaster,” said Hussain. “Before this game I had Anderson ahead of Woakes. I think the way Woakes has played in this game, he outbowled Anderson, he’s obviously outbatted Anderson, so I think Woakes goes ahead of Anderson. But also Archer’s also under the radar, there’s quite a few in the radar, but if Chris Woakes is fit, he plays, Broad plays, Bess plays, you have to keep going with spin. I’ve always said, have two English-type seamers, so I’d probably go Broad and Woakes, and one tearaway, Archer or Wood.
“If Stokes is fit to bowl, you don’t need five seamers. I’ve never believed in five seamers. If five seamers aren’t gonna do it, the fifth one’s not gonna do it. They did that in New Zealand or somewhere, it was ridiculous. Don’t fudge the decision, a difficult decision. It’s a difficult decision. Pick your best four seamers, which includes Stokes, your best spinner, and your batsman. Don’t fudge it.”