Nasser Hussain: England selection has been abysmal

Former England captain Nasser Hussain says the failure of recent Test call-ups is a "sad indictment" of county cricket and a reflection of "abysmal" selection.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain had some harsh words after the limp defeat to South Africa at Trent Bridge
Former England captain Nasser Hussain had some harsh words after the limp defeat to South Africa at Trent Bridge

England crumbled on day four of the second Investec Test against South Africa, skittled for 133 en route to a series-levelling 340-run defeat.

Once again that exposed big problems in their top order, which has seen a rotating cast around mainstays such as Alastair Cook and Joe Root for the last couple of years.

Keaton Jennings and Gary Ballance both struggled again and find themselves under the spotlight ahead of the next match at the Oval, but Hussain believes the issue runs deeper than a pair of batsmen struggling for touch.

"The lads who are coming in aren't doing anything," Hussain told Sky Sports 2.

"They won at Lord's because of Joe Root...the ones they've won before have been because of Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad in Johannesburg.

"The selectors are going to have to have a good long look at themselves because their record in the last two years - two years ago it was one-day cricket, now in Test match cricket - their selections have been abysmal.

"Name some lads who've come in: (James) Vince, (Ben) Duckett, (Gareth) Batty, (Zafar) Ansari...I can name a long list but no-one's coming in and doing well. Ballance, Alex Hales.

"It's a sad indictment of county cricket that all those lads are getting runs and wickets in county cricket but every time they're picked for England they're not."

Hussain was particularly alarmed by what he saw from Northamptonshire batsmen Duckett, who was dropped after a chastening time in the sub-continent over the winter, and Ballance's return after being twice dropped under head coach Trevor Bayliss.

"Duckett scored so many runs then played Ravi Ashwin in India and there was a glaring technical issue - exposing his stumps to the off-spinner. No-one picked up on that in county cricket. No-one.

"Selection is not just about saying 'Gary Ballance has 1,000 first-class runs so Gary Ballance plays'.

"Speak to umpires, speak to bowlers, has he actually changed? He hasn't changed a thing and we're getting exactly what we got the last two times.

"He'll go back to county cricket and score runs again but that doesn't mean he's an international cricketer."

Another former England skipper, Geoffrey Boycott, was deeply unimpressed by the manner of England's reverse and predicted at least two changes for the next squad.

"(Liam) Dawson and Jennings will get replaced," he told BBC Test Match Special.

"Some other areas, three batting areas, are not very good. They need better batsmen and a better attitude. The opening batsman Jennings looks vulnerable to the new ball. He left a gap today that you could drive my car through.

"What hurts, and should hurt, is the way they played. There is no shame in getting beaten, but it's the way you play. Only Alastair Cook made any effort to play in the sort of the way that the situation demanded.

"Except for Alastair, who tried hard, the rest of them have a flamboyant way of playing. Play shots, whack it, hit it, get fours. Everybody keeps saying this brave new England side, attacking England side, we like to play positive and they have all got sucked into this feeling.

"They believe it now. If you believe that, then what you are going to get are wonderful successes, like at Lord's, and these horrible losses. There is no middle ground."