Nasser Hussain has highlighted the technical issues being faced by Joe Denly after the England batsman’s disappointing outing in the first innings of the Southampton Test against West Indies.
Denly added only four runs to his overnight score of 14 on the second day of the Test before being dismissed by a Shannon Gabriel delivery that nipped back in and uprooted his off stump. There have been question marks over the right-hander’s recent form and his inability to convert starts into big scores, and Hussain feels the problem is ‘clearly a technical one’.
“In the time before video analysis, a batsman might have had two or three Tests before the opposition worked out where to bowl to him,” Hussain wrote in his column for the Daily Mail. “Now, the West Indies will sit down the day before the game, watch the footage and come to an obvious conclusion: ‘Right, Denly. Let’s get it to nip back from outside off.’
“His problem is clearly a technical one. He is planting his front foot on middle and off stump, but he is not moving it again. And because his feet are getting stuck, he is having to play at the ball with his hands. If the ball is coming back in from the off-side, that leaves a gap between bat and pad. And that is what any international bowler worth his salt will be trying to exploit.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 9, 2020
“At county level, a glitch like that does not matter so much, because the bowlers might only be able to produce a threatening delivery once an over. Rob Key, who used to captain Denly at Kent, says it has always been a vulnerability. But in Test cricket, that goes up to three or four times an over.
“It is hard to say why Denly has got into this habit, but it is possibly a function of modern practice routines, which can be a bit robotic against all those throwdowns and bowling machines. You can almost drill yourself into the wrong position, rather than learning to see the ball and reacting to it.”
Denly has now reached double figures in 23 of his 27 Test innings but is yet to score a century. England head coach Chris Silverwood, however, has indicated that Denly could hold on to his spot even when full-time captain Joe Root returns for the second Test, with Zak Crawley expected to make way instead.