England Test cricket needs “tender loving care”, says Phil Tufnell

Test cricket in England needs “a little bit of tender loving care” but Joe Root is the right captain to lead the team forward, according to former international bowler Phil Tufnell.

The iconic Test Match Special expert spoke exclusively to RadioTimes.com as he gears up to take a brand new Test Match Special Live show across the country alongside cult hero commentator Jonathan Agnew.

He believes that the red ball game is crying out for attention in the same way that limited overs formats have been cared for in recent years, a strategy that led to the ODI team winning the Cricket World Cup in 2019.

Tufnell said: “There are things to be done. The Test team and red ball cricket needs a little bit of TLC. I think it needs a little bit of a tweak with scheduling.

“You’ve got to get red ball cricket played in the summer months, not the beginning of April and in October with this great big glut of one-day cricket. You’ve got to give the red ball guys a chance of playing in sunny conditions on good pitches.

“People who are above my pay level will be sitting down thinking about this but I don’t think they need to get too carried away with it all. There are always these major overhauls but not many teams go Down Under and come back with a I can only remember two or three in the last 30 or 40 years.

“We’ve got to maintain that Test match cricket is the pinnacle, for sure. In the white ball game, it was a disaster, then with Eoin Morgan they put that four-year plan in place to give it a little bit more emphasis and look what happened.

“Perhaps the red ball game got slightly left behind in that. It just needs a little bit of tender loving care to balance it up a little bit but, you know, don’t throw all the counties away! This happens every time [England lose]†

“Joe Root should continue to be captain, mainly because I don’t know who else would do it. He’s got huge respect in the game, ICC Player of the Year this year – what a wonderful player he is. But he does need a bit of help from his mates. The batting line-up needs to take a good look at themselves.”

Tufnell stated “in the cold light of day, we didn’t perform” Down Under as England were blown away 4-0 in a humiliating Ashes series in the 2021/22 winter.

The 55-year-old has fired out a call to fringe players to take their chances in upcoming Test matches, including England in the West Indies 2022 starting this week.

He said: “For players coming through, now’s the opportunity, isn’t it? This is the time for someone to stick their hand up and break into the side, when things do go down.

“I don’t know who but someone needs to stick their hand up in county cricket and demand to get playing and when they get the opportunity, seize it with both hands.

“I think James Vince might come back and look to get back into the lineup. We know all about him. And there are some good youngsters knocking around there.

“When you get the opportunity, bloody take it. It’s a ruthless game, in a funny sort of way. I don’t think people have been doing that lately but spring is in the air.”

Test Match Special Live runs from 9th April until 8th May across the UK. Tickets for the tour are on sale now and are available from fane.co.uk.

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