Nasser Hussain believes England’s selectors would be taking a backward step if they recalled Ian Bell for the winter Test tours to Bangladesh and India.
Bell has not played international cricket since November, when he won the last of his 118 Test caps against Pakistan in United Arab Emirates, but is reportedly under consideration for a return following England’s batting problems this summer.
Nick Compton, Gary Ballance, Alex Hales and James Vince have all recently struggled to nail down a position in the side, meaning head coach Trevor Bayliss could be tempted to utilise Bell’s experience of sub-continent conditions later this year.
However, former England skipper Hussain would prefer to see a younger player given an opportunity to impress rather than hand 34-year-old Bell a comeback.
“There is no doubting Ian Bell’s class and his record in the sub-continent – I think he averages over 40 in the sub-continent,” said the 48-year-old pundit, who will launch new channel Sky Sports Mix today. “But he didn’t have a good time of it in the UAE recently and that is why he was left out.
“I would personally like to look to the future, especially with the tour of Bangladesh. I don’t see the mileage of taking Bell, albeit a fantastic player, so I would look to the future.
“I personally would look to, especially in Bangladesh, blood a youngster and give a youngster an opportunity.
“Whether that youngster be [Ben] Duckett, who has not just done it in one-day cricket, or other lads like [Tom] Westley, [Daniel] Bell-Drummond, [Scott] Borthwick. There are other lads who have done fine things this summer.
“It would be a bit of a backward step, but I understand that they keep giving people chances and they are not taking them, so there is that temptation to go back to Ian Bell who is a very fine international cricketer.”
Safety concerns have been raised over England’s tour of Bangladesh in October following recent terror attacks in the country.
Australia pulled out of a trip to Bangladesh last year for safety reasons and Hussain, who toured the country with England in 2003, says the players will have to leave the decision to the experts.
“I was fortunate enough to tour Pakistan and Bangladesh and I had no concerns at that time,” Hussain added. “But, obviously, it is a completely different world now.
“It is a changed situation and you can only go on what the security experts tell you, you can’t do anything else. I think Bayliss has said it is up to the individual. You have to go on what security advice you are given. Reg Dickason is their security advisor, and he is a very good man.
“He has done this before and all round the world. He will advise and they will go on that advice. What would concern Bangladesh, if it doesn’t go ahead, is that they don’t want to be another Pakistan and not be able to play at home at all. They won’t want it moved to Dubai and around there because that is the start of something they don’t want to do in the future.”
l The first Test between South Africa and New Zealand ended in a draw after a third consecutive day was lost to a wet outfield in Durban.
The outfield failed to recover from heavy rain at the end of day two, when New Zealand closed on 15 for two in reply to 263, with the final day abandoned more than 30 minutes before it was due to start.
The second and final match of the series starts at Centurion on Saturday.