Cricket Expert & Columnist
Nick Gubbins could open for England in Ashes, says Nasser Hussain
'Keaton Jennings would benefit from return to county cricket
Last Updated: 07/08/17 12:02pm
Nasser Hussain believes Middlesex's Nick Gubbins could solve England's opener conundrum in this winter's Ashes series in Australia.
Keaton Jennings has partnered Alastair Cook throughout this summer's series against South Africa, recording just 127 runs in eight innings at an average of 15.87 with a top score of 48, at The Oval.
Sky Sports expert Hussain reckons the 25-year-old - who hit a hundred on Test debut in India in December - should return to Durham and work on his technique outside off stump.
And the former England captain has backed another left-hander, Gubbins, as a suitable replacement, citing his back-foot game as one which could thrive on bouncy Australian pitches.
"He is not someone who has been scoring a whole heap of runs but I think he will do well in Australia," Hussain said of Gubbins, who is averaging a shade under 25 in the Specsavers County Championship, on Sky Sports News HQ.
"He's a back-foot player, who plays the ball above his waist. I know he has a bit of problem against spin but you don't see a lot of it in Australia, apart from Nathan Lyon later on in the innings.
"Obviously there's Haseeb Hameed, who he came in and showed he's got a lot of character for Test cricket - but he's struggling for runs this season.
"Don't just pick people who are getting loads of runs. Pick people you think will get runs at this level and in Australia on a very important Ashes tour.
On Jennings, whose spot for the impending three-Test series at home to West Indies could be in jeopardy, Hussain added: "I still think he is a good player - when you watch him bat and line the ball up, you're not thinking 'crikey, here is an absolute shocker', but there is a repetitive nature to his dismissals.
"He went into his shell a little bit [on Sunday]; he was trying to battle, and survive. He was trying to play for his Test match future and even in the games that he's scored runs, he's been dropped.
"I would probably send him back to county cricket and say 'go and work on that specific area just on the top of off stump' and you can come back and become an international player.
Alex Hales opened for England in 11 consecutive Tests, against South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in 2015 and 2016, averaging 27.28 and hitting five fifties in 21 innings.
The Nottinghamshire player has dazzled in the NatWest T20 Blast this season, including on Saturday when he hammered 95 from just 30 balls against Durham at Trent Bridge.
But Hussain says Hales, who is now batting in the middle-order for his county in first-class cricket, may not necessarily solve England's issues at No 5, a position currently held by Dawid Malan.
"Let's not confuse one-day form with Test match form," said Hussain "Just because Hales is smashing it brilliantly for Notts in T20, let's not think he suddenly comes in at number five for England - a position he's only batted in once in county cricket."