"Before We Condemn Joe Root...": Nasser Hussain Explains Why England Captain Opted To Bat First In Brisbane
Former England captain Nasser Hussain tried to explain the possible reasons behind Joe Root's decision to bat first in the first Ashes Test.
England captain Joe Root's decision to bat first on a fresh Gabba pitch drew criticism after his side was bowled out for 147 on Day 1 of the first Test against Australia in Brisbane. Former England captain Nasser Hussain, however, tried to explain the possible reasons behind Root's decision. Hussain said one shouldn't forget that even Australia captain Pat Cummins would have batted first had he won the toss and it was actually a "classic good toss to loss" scenario.
"Before we condemn Joe Root for making the wrong decision at the toss it should be remembered that both captains as the coin went up were going to have a bat. It was a classic 'good toss to lose' scenario because Root and Cummins would have known history told them they should probably take first knock but, looking down at the pitch, their instinct would have been to bowl. That was the issue," Hussain wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.
England lost opener Rory Burns off the first ball and could never quite recover from the early blow. They were eventually bowled out in just 50.1 overs with Australia's skipper Cummins picking up a five-wicket haul on his captaincy debut.
Hussain said Root had the difficult task of not looking at the past before deciding what to do at the toss.
"As I said in before the first Test, Root had to forget about what has happened in the past at the Gabba and do what he felt was right on the day. Sometimes you can complicate these things and I certainly did that all those years ago when I tried to reinvent the wheel at Brisbane by bowling first when conditions demanded I should bat. That turned out to be the wrong decision but 147 all out tells you Root got it wrong by batting this time," Hussain added.
The former top-order batted admitted that he in fact wanted Root to lose the toss.
"I wanted Root, as an England fan, to lose the toss. I could see the mind-games unfolding in front of me in the build-up to it. It can be forgotten if you bat first and get it wrong but rarely if you bowl," he said.
Explaining the rationale behind both captain's desire to bat first, Hussain said they might have thought about the match would progress instead of just the first day.
"So those thoughts were sitting on one of Joe's shoulders but on the other he would have seen a green pitch, rain around and knowing he has a strong bowling line-up and fragile batting. That battle over what to do would have been going on in his mind.
"Why did both captains want to bat? They were thinking not just about how the pitch looked on the first day but also how it might develop as the game goes on. And they would know that with a soft pitch on day one indentations would be created and it will quicken up as the game goes on.
"They would have been thinking about what would happen if the sun comes out and, with the humidity in Brisbane, the probability of cracks widening. You have to think of the second innings as well as a captain ahead of a Test. There are so many grey areas," he said.