Sky Sports Cricket’s Nasser Hussain has urged England to focus on trying to sweep Pakistan 3-0 in Karachi rather than pick a side with next summer’s Ashes in mind.
England completed a series victory over Babar Azam’s men by winning the second Test in Multan on Monday, a week after triumphing in the series opener in Rawalpindi.
The tourists could potentially hand a debut to 18-year-old leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed in the final fixture – if they did, he would become their youngest men’s Test cricketer of all time.
The Karachi Test starts on Saturday – live on Sky Sports from 4.30am – with England looking for a ninth win in 10 matches since Ben Stokes became captain and Brendon McCullum head coach.
Hussain told Sky Sports News: “I don’t think England will take a backward step, I don’t see Stokes or McCullum saying, ‘we are 2-0 up, we will give people a chance’. I hate hearing that. If you play for England, you deserve that cap, not so they can have a look at you.
Hussain: Give England fans the best Christmas present
“You have to remember where England were six months ago with one win in 17 Tests and how they have turned it around. Have that same attitude. Don’t think of The Ashes, don’t think about New Zealand, who they have next in February.
“A 3-0 win in Pakistan would be the best Christmas present for England fans so win this one game and round off an absolutely brilliant six or seven months for English cricket, including the T20 World Cup win.”
“England may want to get Ben Foakes back in as he is an exceptional wicketkeeper – and how is Mark Wood’s body? He looked absolutely exhausted, physically and mentally, at the end of the last Test match and you want to look after a racehorse like him. But if he is fit and raring to go, you give him another game.
“Then there is Ahmed. I think England think it is going to spin in Karachi so they may play the extra spinner – but whatever side they pick must be one they think can beat Pakistan, not a side with one eye on the future or ‘let’s have a look at him’.
“Pick a side that wins 3-0, which would be a magnificent performance on these pitches away from home in alien conditions.”
‘One of sport’s great turnarounds’
On Stokes and McCullum reviving England’s Test fortunes, Hussain added: “It is a remarkable transformation, one of the great transformations not just in cricket but in sport in general.
“From where the England cricket team were when Rob Key took over [as managing director of men’s cricket] for it to turnaround has been a fabulous performance. Not just the winning but the style. Stokes and his men have made it very exciting cricket.
“I think we knew what we were going to get with Stokes. He is tough character and at his best when England are in difficult positions.
“But I have been really impressed with the tactical side, the subtle decisions on field placings, when to take the new ball and when not to.
“Holding back Jimmy Anderson, the greatest new-ball bowler England have ever had and not giving him the new ball. Not giving Ollie Robinson the new ball but giving it to the spinners.
“He has not surprised me tactically because anyone who has played the innings he has must know the game, but he has surprised everyone with how many times he gets his tactical decisions right.”
Anderson up to second in Test bowling rankings
England seamer Anderson, 40, has risen a spot to second in the ICC Test bowling rankings after taking three wickets in his side’s series-clinching, 26-run win over Pakistan in Multan.
Anderson is back in the top two for the first time since February 2019 after moving ahead of India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, with Australia quick Pat Cummins now the only player above him.
Speaking to Sky Sports during the Multan Test, former England fast bowler Steven Finn said of Anderson: “His pace has been maintained and if anything he has got quicker in the last couple of years which is just unfathomable at his age.
“He has such a smooth, repeatable action that if you were telling any kid how you want them to bowl when they are younger, you’d want something like Jimmy.
“He has that competitive bit between his teeth all of the time. He wants that fight, he wants to do all the hard work.”
Watch day one of the third Test between Pakistan and England, in Karachi, live on Sky Sports from 4.30am on Saturday. The first ball is at 5am.
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