Former England captain Nasser Hussain has asked the visitors if left-arm spinner Jack Leach is not playing on the spin-friendly pitch at the Adelaide Oval, then when his chance will come.
He added that forcing right-arm pacer Ollie Robinson to bowl three overs of off-spin summed up England’s situation without a specialist spinner in the ongoing second Ashes Test.
“I’ve got complete admiration for Lyon. It’s bloody difficult bowling finger spin in Australia but he has become a wonderful bowler and has more than 400 Test wickets to his name. He was beating England’s left-handers ball after ball and he was all over a right-hander in Ollie Pope like a rash in the first innings. It is quite another to do it in Adelaide on that sort of dry, turning surface in 38 degree heat,” wrote Hussain in his column for Daily Mail.
“But the ball was turning in Adelaide on day two and England chose to go into this match without a specialist spinner. It is one thing leaving Leach out in England where the Dukes ball moves all day long and four seamers can do all the bowling. The sight of Nathan Lyon gaining turn and bounce and bowling with drop and drift on day four of the second Test raises a big question for England – if Jack Leach is not going to play at Adelaide on that pitch when will he?,” questioned Hussain, who played 96 Tests for England.
Hussain pointed out England’s desperate measures to fill the gap of a spinner on day four, especially when captain Joe Root was hit in the abdomen during the warm-up sessions and didn’t take the field in the start.
“The sight of Ollie Robinson bowling off-spin summed it all up. Joe Root not only had to fill the role of spinner but England had to turn to a seamer to bowl spin, along with Dawid Malan’s occasional leg-spin, to fill the gaps in the attack,” he said.
He then went on to mention the difference in spin approach of Australia and England. “The first innings demonstrated the difference in attitude towards spin of these sides. Root bowled 20 overs out of 150 but then Lyon sent down 28 out of the 84 overs it took Australia to bowl England out. It’s just a completely different mind-set. England clearly do not rate Leach and believe Root can do just as good a job with the ball,” Hussain said.
The 53-year-old signed off by saying that England’s problems in not being confident with the spinners is not a new issue. “We all heard the rumours last summer that England were planning to go in without a spinner in the Ashes because the stats told them opposition fingers spinners do not usually succeed in Australia,” former England captain said.
“It was their cunning plan. But that doesn’t mean they should throw in the towel with spin and not try to do something about it. And the wider question is where the English game is with a spin because it’s hardly a new problem,” he said.