NASSER HUSSAIN: England’s decision to pick Keaton Jennings ahead of Jonny Bairstow for Sri Lanka tour is short-termism
- Picking Jonny Bairstow would have shown long-term planning from England
- Instead, they opted for Keaton Jennings as he’s performed well in Asia
- But even if he excels in Sri Lanka, will he then start against the West Indies?
- Countdown to Twenty20 World Cup is on and England are formalising plans
If you were picking a tennis squad to play on clay you wouldn’t fill it with grass court specialists so I can see the argument for horses-for-courses selections.
But I would have gone long-term and taken Jonny Bairstow to Sri Lanka ahead of Keaton Jennings.
Bairstow hasn’t made too many runs of late but he got a hundred last time England were in Sri Lanka and, crucially, he is the more complete player.
Keaton Jennings has performed well against Sri Lanka before and was picked again for the tour
I don’t like too much short-termism in selection.
Look further down the line and think about who has the better chance of succeeding in Australia and the next Ashes.
Say Jennings makes a couple of hundreds in Galle and Colombo next month. Does he then start next summer against West Indies or do you leave him out because his Test record at home isn’t good enough up to now?
And if he doesn’t get any runs then England have missed the opportunity to give Bairstow another chance to further his game against spin and become a batsman for all conditions and oppositions, as he has the potential to be.
Jonny Bairstow would have been more of a long-term pick and is a more complete player
Ed Smith has shown he likes to pick players for different conditions but he will have to be firm with that otherwise we will have a repeat of the situation that arose when
Sam Curran was player of the series at home against India a couple of years ago. England then went to the Caribbean and Curran ended up wrongly opening the bowling in Barbados.
So, if Jennings does succeed in Sri Lanka Smith will have to be strong enough to still go along a different route when England are back at home this summer.
But Test issues can wait for now because today marks the start of the build-up to the next Twenty20 World Cup and England have to start formalising their plans.
Alex Hales could be a huge difference maker for England at the Twenty20 World Cup
Right here and now I couldn’t tell you what England’s batting line-up should be in that opening World Cup game in Perth in October because of their embarrassment of riches. You have players of the calibre of Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Tom Banton, James Vince and Joe Root who could all miss out.
I am a big fan of Hales the cricketer and I certainly would not rule him out. I understand what Eoin Morgan has said about him regaining trust issues after missing out on the 50-over World Cup because of recreational drug use but other players have made errors and come back to have their redemption.
I hope Hales has learnt his lesson and if he has, England could move on with him back involved.