Planning for a future without Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson was never going to be easy. If anyone doubted how difficult managing a transition for England’s leading wicket takers from absolute essential to sometimes desirable or even dropped, the ‘resting’ of Broad last week and subsequent reaction said much.
But as Joe Root goes into a must-win second Test against a West Indies side sensing a once-in-a-generation opportunity for an overseas series win, the resting of Anderson offered further proof England are looking long term.
Broad was left out on home soil for the first time in eight years in the first Test, which Windies won by four wickets.
And Root admitted yesterday the days when the pair were automatic selections might well be a thing of the past.
With England looking to plan for the next Ashes in Australia in 18 months’ time and the chances high neither will be making the trip, there is a need to look at new combinations.
England made clear resting Anderson, who turns 38 this month, and Mark Wood – both feeling the effects of their exertions in Southampton – is perhaps borne of necessity given the abbreviated nature of this series.
Particularly for Anderson who will probably be back in the saddle for the third next week.
Yet it is also a signal that plans are in place to move from an over-reliance on the pair for wickets to a new future.
Asked about the rotation of his leading lights yesterday Root was diplomatic.
“One thing you know about Broady and Jimmy is that they are still performing right at the level needed for Test cricket,” he said of a pair responsible for 1072 Test wickets between them.
“This is more of a decision based on the balance of the attack. In the last game we wanted that extra firepower on a wicket that looked like it could be very slow and go up and down, and that was thinking behind it.
“But with Stuart and Jimmy, trying to maximise their careers is really important to make sure they are playing for as long as possible.
“If that has to be slightly different to how it has been over the last few years then we might have to think outside the box and not play them in every game or not play them together all the time.
“That is not to say it won’t happen again, they are two world class performers and we are very very lucky to have them.
“I also think it is important that we don’t wish them away too early and look elsewhere too quickly and we really try and enjoy two of England’s all time great bowlers.”
Broad and Chris Woakes appear likely to come for the pair here at Old Trafford as England look to square the series 1-1. Joe Denly’s spell in Test cricket could be at an end after he was finally moved aside.
Denly lost his place to the returning Root but in reality it has been lost to Zak Crawley who top scored in England’s second innings with 76.
“Joe has done a brilliant job for us,” said Root.
“I think he’ll be just as frustrated as anyone that he’s not managed to quite convert those opportunities. But certainly the door’s not closed.”
Anderson has been left out of the second Test at his home ground Old Trafford as England look to level the series against West Indies. England’s leading wicket taker, has officially been ‘rested’ fro mthe 13-man squad.
Root, returning after missing the first Test for the birth of his second child, admitted it was another difficult decision following Stuart Broad’s omission last week.
But he insisted that Anderson, who has taken 587 Test wickets, was far from done with at the highest level despite his age.
“We need to get the balance right, especially in this period with so many back to back matches, they need to be well looked after and we get that right,” he said.
“We want them to be as potent as possible but we don’t want to put guys out of selection for a long time.
“We are building a team over a period of a few years, so trying to manage that along with winning the next game is vitally important.”
Denly has less reason for optimism after his difficult spell at Test level was ended yesterday.
Root said: “It’s a very difficult decision we’ve had to make and have gone a different way. But I think he’s done a good job over a period of time.
“The door is not shut for him.”
England likely line up: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root (capt), Stokes, Pope, Buttler (wkt), Bess, Woakes, Broad, Archer