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England v West Indies

Hussain explains why Bess over Leach was the right call for England

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Nasser Hussain, the former captain, felt that England made the right call by opting for Dom Bess‘ off-spin over Jack Leach’s left-arm spin for the second Test in Manchester, and urged the need for patience with the 23-year-old.

Bess, England’s only specialist spinner for the game, bowled 21 overs for his solitary scalp in the first innings, but Hussain insisted the off-spinner was still a work in progress.

“I do not agree with the theory that England should have played slow left-armer Jack Leach ahead of Bess because West Indies have 10 right-handers,” Hussain wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

“If you followed that thinking you would create a lot of one-dimensional spinners. For instance, how would Graeme Swann have learned to bowl against right-handers when he was starting out if he had only played when there were more left-handers in a team?”

Hussain noted that Bess has made rapid strides as a bowler, despite his relatively low first-class experience, improving considerably from the time he first came in and bowled with little dip or drift. Having worked with Sri Lanka’s Rangana Herath has helped him fine-tune his lines, which, Hussain feels, can go a long way in helping Bess stake claim as England’s No.1 spinner.

“The advantage Bess has is that Sam Curran is providing rough for him outside the right-hander’s off-stump here,” Hussain wrote, “and that would have been accentuated by Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad going round the wicket and bowling short at West Indies. So he should have more footholes to help him than he did in the first Test, if he gets a go today.

“Monday is a big day for Bess if England get in a position to try to bowl West Indies out a second time. But the only way he is going to improve is to keep playing and have a good shot at being England’s No 1 spinner.”

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