Cricket Expert & Columnist
Hussain on Olly Stone: “I think he is a better bowler than just an enforcer, the guy to blow you away, so how he is captained is going to be important”
Last Updated: 13/10/18 1:37pm
The only question mark over England’s ODI side is their cricket in crunch knockout games, says Nasser Hussain.
Eoin Morgan’s side, favourites for next summer’s World Cup on home soil, beat Sri Lanka in a weather-affected second ODI in Dambulla, after posting 278-9 and reducing the hosts to 140-5 before rain intervened.
However, England have not won a global limited-overs title since the 2010 ICC World T20 and lost to Windies in the final of the 2016 World T20 as well as in the semi-finals of the 2017 Champions Trophy to Pakistan.
“England have got every box ticked,” said Hussain after Morgan’s men claimed a 1-0 lead in their five-match series with Sri Lanka thanks, in large part, to half-centuries from Morgan and Joe Root.
“There is a little question against mystery spin but that is something, given time, they will work on and improve.
“They didn’t have their best day but got 280, which was above par in my estimations. Sometimes when you’re around a side you don’t realise how good they are until you go away from home and they are a very fine team.
“It’s not ‘if they can play in these conditions’ as we have seen that they can, it is ‘can they do it under pressure in a must-win game?’
“If Jason Roy goes in the first over, like he did today, can Joe Root come out and play the same way under pressure? I think he can.
Root is wonderful player. We can have our cup half empty and say Root got fifty and out again but every time he goes out to bat he gets a score and he is very watchable. Batting is not supposed to be that easy. Not many sides win World Cups without a good No 3 – you need that driving force and Root gives you that.
Nasser Hussain on Joe Root
“Morgan then hit 31 in the next 18 balls after Root got out – he didn’t hold back at all, he just kept going. In a bilateral series you just carry on but in a World Cup semi-final, when you’ve just lost Root, will Morgan do that?
“You just want to make sure you can do that in a one-off, must-win game but you can’t test that until you’re in the situation because every other cricket they play is bilateral cricket where there is a tomorrow.”
Chris Woakes shredded Sri Lanka’s top order with three wickets inside his first five overs, but Olly Stone also caught the eye with his pace and bounce and was rewarded with the scalp of Niroshan Dickwella.
“No one likes pace, no one likes it round their throat,” Hussain added of the Warwickshire seamer, who bowled for the first time in international cricket after rain washed out his debut in Dambulla on Wednesday.
“Michael Holding says the quick ball may not get you out but it makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do – you fear for your safety, your ticker’s going a bit and you play shots you don’t need to.
“I hope that he [Stone] is used sensibly. What you don’t want is for him to think he is just the enforcer, the ‘bang-it-in Billy’ to get rid of the tail.
“He came on for his second spell and you could see Thisara [Perera] sitting back waiting for the short ball because the element of surprise had gone. He then pulled him for boundaries.
“I think he is a better bowler than just an enforcer, the guy to blow you away, so how he is captained is going to be important.
“He also has to stay fit. He reminds me now of what [Mark] Wood was like when he first burst on to the scene – raw, in and at you.
“Wood has since had injuries and his pace has dropped, so for any young fast bowler anywhere around the world the key is to stay fit.”
Watch the third ODI between Sri Lanka and England, in Pallekele, live on Sky Sports Cricket (channel 404) from 9.30am on Wednesday.