UPDATE: Anderson and Wood rested for second Test
After earlier announcing that the returning Joe Root will take the place of a struggling Joe Denly, England have opted to rest their most experienced bowler James Anderson and fellow fast bowler Mark Wood for the second Test against West Indies, starting Thursday.
England did not confirm their final 13-man squad until late on Wednesday afternoon, with Anderson understood to be sore after bowling 40 overs in his first match back after injury, and Wood also being monitored given his history of niggles.
England’s preparations were hampered by rain in Manchester that forced the team to train indoors, and by a lively practice wicket on Tuesday that restricted their opportunities to assess the form and fitness of their quicks, and Root conceded there had been “a few areas to shore up” before any final decisions could be made.
“We’ll have to have another look at the wicket, and there’s a few things we have to clear up in-house,” Root said in England’s pre-match press conference, prior to the squad announcement, “making sure everyone pulls up as we would like, and being really clear on what’s the best thing for the team over these five days.
Anderson, who turns 38 at the end of the month, needs another 13 wickets to become the first seamer to reach 600 Test wickets. He was the pick of England’s seamers in the first innings at the Ageas Bowl, claiming 3-62 in 25 overs, but went wicketless second time around as West Indies sealed victory on the final day.
Anderson’s omission for the first of two back-to-back games at his home ground means that he will have missed 10 of England’s last 14 Tests in the last 12 months, dating back to Ireland’s visit to Lord’s last July.
Only once in that period has he attempted back-to-back games, the second Test against South Africa at Cape Town, where he broke down in the second innings after claiming 5-40 in the first.
The situation means a probable recall for Stuart Broad, who expressed 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.
Chris Woakes could also make his first appearance of the summer, with all 22 of England’s players obliged to remain within the team environment due to the bio-secure arrangements for the series.
“I think there’s challenges that present themselves in this COVID era,” Root added.
“With the games coming around quickly, managing bowlers is going to be quite important. Getting the balance right with a few of them coming back from injury, it’s about making the right calls at the right times. We are blessed with a number of guys who haven’t played or weren’t in the squad who’ve averaged 20 in the last couple of years in English conditions.”
England squad for second Test: Joe Root (capt), Jofra Archer, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes. (ESPNCricinfo)