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Former England captain Nasser Hussain feels that opener Keaton Jennings should be dropped for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka following his dismal performance in the ongoing Test series against India.
Jennings has failed to have an impact in the five Tests against India, accumulating 163 runs at an average of 18.11.
Hussain initially expressed his support for England persisting with Jennings in Sri Lanka, but he admitted that he had a change of heart after the 26-year-old’s two innings in the fifth Test at The Oval, where he was dismissed for 23 and 10 runs respectively.
In the first innings, Jennings was caught by Lokesh Rahul at leg slip off the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja, while in the second innings, he made a huge error in judgment and left a delivery from Mohammed Shami that came back in and crashed into off stump.
Given the disappointing nature of his dismissals in both innings, Hussain feels Jennings’ time in the Test side has come to an end.
“If you’d asked me before this game whether I’d have taken Jennings to Sri Lanka, I’ve have said yes. But his two dismissals here at The Oval have – reluctantly – changed my mind,” he wrote in his column for the Daily Mail. “He’s supposed to be a good player of spin, which is why England are keen to take him on tour, but to get out caught at leg slip, more or less off the face of the bat, was a dozy piece of cricket.
“The bowler Ravindra Jadeja often gets players out that way with his left-arm spin, so it was careless of Jennings – almost as if he’d forgotten the man was there.
“Then, in the second innings, he shouldered arms to Shami and was bowled top of middle stump. Shami was going so wide of the stumps he was almost bowling no-balls on the return crease, so Jennings must have known the ball would be coming back into him.
“Shami is also a skiddy bowler. Whereas you can leave a taller bowler like Ishant Sharma on length, Shami constantly demands the batsman to play. It was another poor decision.”
With Alastair Cook retiring from international cricket after the fifth Test against India, England will need to find two new openers if Jennings is shown the door.
With that in mind, Hussain believes uncapped Surrey opener Rory Burns should be brought in, along with James Vince, who has been in and out of the Test side since making his debut in May 2016.
“So who goes instead? The sad truth is the cupboard is a bit bare,” Hussain wrote. “But it’s a results business, so I’d take Surrey’s Rory Burns, who has consistently been in the runs over the past few years. He’s also a left-hander, which should help deal with the threat of Sri Lanka’s slow left-armer Rangana Herath.
“In fact, being a good player of spin will be the key factor out there. Forget trying to combat swing, which has been the problem this summer. Sri Lanka will be a trial of spin from the start, so you pick your best six or seven batsmen against the turning ball. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re an opener or not. For those reasons, I’d take James Vince.
“Yes, he’s been vulnerable outside off stump so far in his career, but Sri Lanka will pose different questions, and I still believe there’s a Test batsman in Vince waiting to reveal himself. That earns him the edge over Joe Denly.”
England’s tour of Sri Lanka will consist of five ODIs, a one-off Twenty20 International and three Tests. The Test series will begin on November 6 in Galle.