Cricket Expert & Columnist
The Ashes: England yet to fire and may recall Onions, says Hussain
England are yet to fire on all cylinders in the Ashes, says Nasser Hussain, and could recall Graham Onions.
Last Updated: 05/08/13 6:36pm
Alastair Cook's side - already 2-0 up in the series - kept hold of the urn after the third Test at Old Trafford ended in a draw. Read our report here.
They achieved the feat even though skipper Cook and Jonathan Trott - who averaged 128 and 89 respectively in the 2010/11 series - are averaging under 25 so far this time around.
Former England skipper Hussain said head coach Andy Flower will be encouraged that there is still room for improvement.
"Flower will want the side to improve all of the time," said Hussain. "I think it is a real bonus for England that Cook and Trott - their two most dependable players haven't got massive runs.
"They've chipped in here and there - Cook has got two half-centuries and Trott got some runs at Trent Bridge in the first innings - but yet England have still got enough runs because Bell has played consistently well throughout and the tail has contributed.
"So they've managed to retain the Ashes without their two bankers having phenomenal series so far, so there is room for growth in this England side and going to Australia, so that will give Flower some kind of pleasure that it is not just the same kind of names all the time winning them games.
"As a team England look very, very strong. Australia have got a pretty good bowling line-up but to get through England twice on a Test match surface is pretty tough with Stuart Broad batting at eight, Graeme Swann at nine.
"England have got seamers in good nick if they wanted to rotate they could bring in either Graham Onions or Chris Tremlett. So England are doing their job and doing it pretty well."
The fourth Test gets underway on Friday at Durham and Hussain said that he'd be tempted to make one change to England's line-up by bringing in Onions.
The Durham seamer was dropped from the Test squad after the first two Tests but kept himself in the selectors' minds by taking 7-62 for his county against Middlesex at Lord's.
"I'd like to see Onions play at Durham on his home ground because he's in form," said Hussain. "He bowls the right length too.
"If you look at the statistics at Durham - and in general - bowlers who bowl full have done well. It might be a different pitch for the Test but seamers have been getting their wickets at 20 runs apiece and spinners at 40 apiece.
"I'd like to see Onions in the side - I just don't know who to leave out! Bresnan might bowl that full length and nibble it around.
"But if one of the bowlers is carrying a niggle or is that exhausted that they can't get through then get Onions in. But if you've bowled on three pretty flat pitches, you are going to be pretty stupid to give your place to someone else! They'll all want to play at Durham.
"The thing England can improve on is their top-order batting - particularly going to Durham. I've spoken about the England seamers but don't forget how Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris could bowl on that pitch."
Australia skipper Michael Clarke - who was named Man of the Match after scoring 187 in his side's first innings - said he was proud of the way his team fought back at Old Trafford after losing the second Test at Lord's by 347 runs inside four days and Hussain says that amid their celebrations England must not forget that the tourists remain dangerous opponents.
"The real bonus for the series is the way that Australia have come back after Lord's," he said.
"To win the toss and get 500 here - and in particular how their captain and Lyon has bowled - shows that Australia are actually a force to be reckoned with.
"If Australia had won that first game, then who knows? I think we all felt that was Australia's chance; if they were going to win back the Ashes they had to win that close encounter at Trent Bridge.
"England walloped them at Lord's but, again, it's been pretty close here. In two out of the three Test matches Australia have played some really good cricket. The shame for them was Lord's, where they just did not turn up at all.
"They've shown England that if they don't turn up at Durham and the Oval fully focused - and don't forget that there are another seven Ashes Test matches to come - that they are not going to be walked over, like some people thought that they would be."
Watch the fourth Ashes Test between England and Australia live from 10am on Friday on Sky Sports Ashes and online and iPad via the Ashes Events Centre, available via the Sky Sports App.