Rawalpindi : Former England captain Nasser Hussain believes despite the head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes emphasising on playing an exciting brand of cricket, runs still remain the currency for the batters to maintain themselves in the Test set-up.
England will be playing a Test series on Pakistani soil after a gap of 17 years when the first of three Tests start at Rawalpindi on Thursday. In a line-up with Stokes, Joe Root, Zak Crawley, Harry Brook, Ben Foakes and Ollie Pope, Ben Duckett has been given a recall while white-ball regular Liam Livingstone is on the cusp of Test debut.
“I guess it’s linked to the brand (of cricket). When Rob Key first came in he spoke about the brand of cricket, and it’s linked to that. It’s a great statement that Stokes and McCullum have got Livingstone, Duckett, got these multi-format players buying into the brand of Test cricket they want to play.”
“I’ll just throw in one caveat, one proviso: still the currency is runs. You look at Alex Lees, he played in the Caribbean the way he wanted to play, he then last summer played the way Stokes and McCullum wanted to play, didn’t get the runs that are required and was axed,” said Hussain on Sky Sports Cricket’s latest Vodcast episode.
“So if I was giving any kind of advice to any young player, you’re only going to be judged on the runs. Not the way you play, however much Stokes and McCullum say: ‘We want these type of players’.” “If you get runs, Alastair Cook-type players can still play in this side because they got the runs.
So go and get it, that is still the currency to stay in the side,” he added. Livingstone was slated to play in the upcoming Big Bash League (BBL) after being picked by Melbourne Renegades in August through an overseas draft.
But a surprise call-up to the England Test squad for the tour of Pakistan meant he had to pull out of BBL. Hussain feels that Test cricket could initially be fun for Livingstone if he gets off to a good start, but advised him to be mentally tougher as the longer format is a tough test for many cricketers.
“It sends a message not to Livingstone, but everyone underneath and all the lads coming through. But it’s more fun when you’re doing well. So Jason Roy has been tried in that sort of role in the Ashes. It only works if you’re getting runs and you’re having fun.”
“Because otherwise, as we know, Test cricket becomes tough. “Mentally, you better make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons, because this format will test you more than any other. I can guarantee you that.”
“If you’re not buying into it completely, by the end, there is always an eye on the slightly easier option of white-ball cricket.”