Denly out, Root in for second Test

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Joe Denly’s Test career would appear to be over after he was omitted from England’s squad for the second Test at Emirates Old Trafford.

Root, who missed England’s four-wicket defeat in last week’s first Test at the Ageas Bowl, returns to the fray as captain after attending the birth of his second child, as his team seeks a means to avoid their first home series defeat against West Indies since 1988.

However, England have yet to confirm their match-day squad, with all 21 players obliged to remain within the team environment due to the bio-secure arrangements for the series.

In a sign of indecision in England’s ranks in the build-up to the second Test, Root’s pre-match press conference had to be postponed by 90 minutes, as England’s selection panel – Root, Chris Silverwood and Ed Smith, the national selector – debated the matchday squad, with Smith understood to favour Denly’s retention in an expanded pool.

All the signs in the build-up to the match had pointed to Denly being dropped. His scores of 18 and 29 at the Ageas Bowl were the 23rd and 24th occasions in 28 Test innings that he has reached double figures, but he has converted those starts to just six fifties in 15 Tests, with a highest score of 94 and an overall average of 29.53.

“Joe is someone that’s done a fantastic job for us over a period of time, and I think he’ll be just as frustrated as anyone that he’s not managed to quite convert those opportunities,” said Root.

“But certainly the door’s not closed. He’s been a big part of our squad for some time now. He gets if he gets an opportunity to come back again, then I’m sure he’ll be desperate to take it.”

Zak Crawley, by contrast, has improved his career-best score in each of his five Tests to date, and top-scored for England in the first Test with a second-innings 76.

At 22, he is a full 12 years younger than Denly, and is set to make his first start for England at No.3, having debuted in New Zealand at No.6, featured as an opener in South Africa, and slotted into Root’s No.4 berth at the Ageas Bowl.

England have also to weigh up their options in the fast-bowling stakes too, with Stuart Broad expressing his displeasure at being overlooked for the first Test despite having been England’s stand-out seamer in both last summer’s Ashes series and the winter tour of South Africa where he claimed 14 wickets at 19.42 in the 3-1 series win. (ESPNCricinfo)

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