Anderson, Broad dropped from England Test squad for West Indies
The fallout from England’s disastrous Ashes tour has moved from management to the dressing room with James Anderson and Stuart Broad, the country’s two leading wicket-takers in Test cricket, left out of the squad for the forthcoming tour of the West Indies.
Neither Anderson nor Broad, together the most-successful new-ball pair in Test history, will travel to the Caribbean for the three-Test series after an interim selection panel of Andrew Strauss, Paul Collingwood and James Taylor decided to give opportunities to a younger set of pace bowlers, including uncapped pair Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Fisher.
Anderson, who is third on the all-time list of Test wicket-takers with 640, topped the averages for England in Australia, taking eight wickets at 23.37 from three matches. Broad, with 537 wickets in his Test career, claimed 13 at 26.30 to move past Bob Willis and Ian Botham as England’s most-prolific Ashes bowler.
Strauss, England’s interim managing director, said that the newly convened selectors, who reportedly took input from the Test captain, Joe Root, wanted to “draw a line under” defeat in Australia, but stressed the decision to omit Anderson and Broad “does not mean the end for them as England players”, with that decision set to confront the new management team that the ECB will hope to have installed by the summer.
England’s first Test squad selected since the sacking of Chris Silverwood, the head coach and chief selector, last week saw eight players dropped after being involved in Australia – as well as Anderson and Broad, Jos Buttler, Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Sam Billings and Dom Bess all missed out.
In the absence of Buttler, whose Test career like that of Burns and Malan may well now be over, wicketkeeper Ben Foakes has been recalled, while Durham opener Alex Lees is set for a debut as one of only two openers in the party, alongside Zak Crawley.
Despite England opting to begin the process of moving on from Anderson and Broad, their problems against Australia largely centred around a brittle batting line-up, which failed to top 300 in the series and made scores of less than 200 on six occasions.
Burns, Hameed and Malan – England’s second-leading run-scorer behind Root – have all paid the price, but there was a reprieve for Ollie Pope, who averaged 11.13 from six innings.
“With the start of a new cycle, it has allowed the selection panel to refresh the Test squad with a particular focus on competing away from home,” Strauss said. “We felt that it was time to draw a line after the Ashes defeat, look forward and give some impetus with an influx of new players.
“In respect of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, I want to emphasise this does not mean the end for them as England players. We feel that it is important to look at some exciting new bowling potential and give some added responsibility to other players who have featured previously. No one doubts the quality and experience that James and Stuart bring to the England set-up. It will be up to the new managing director and permanent head coach to decide on whether they will be involved this summer and beyond.
“This selection of this squad is the start of a process and a journey to get England Test cricket back to where it needs to be, and the hard work starts now.”
Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson – who only made his debut last summer – will be England’s senior seam-bowling options in the Caribbean, supplemented by Mahmood, Fisher and Craig Overton.
Fisher, a former England Under-19, made his Yorkshire debut in 2013 as a 15-year-old but has suffered greatly with injury since then. He was also involved in the Lions tour and has a solid first-class record, picking up 20 Championship wickets at 19.65 last summer.
The inclusion of Lees, who captained England Lions on their tour of Australia, had been widely tipped, with the opener having resurrected his career after leaving Yorkshire for Durham in 2018.
He is set to make an immediate step up to Test cricket, with the other batting options – Pope, Jonny Bairstow and Dan Lawrence – all candidates for the middle order.
Jack Leach is set to continue as the first-choice Test spinner but uncapped Lancashire legspinner Matt Parkinson has also won a recall, having previously toured South Africa in 2019-20. (ESPNcricinfo)
England Test squad: Joe Root (capt), Jonathan Bairstow, Zak Crawley, Matthew Fisher, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
March 1-4 Tour match (opponents TBC)
March 8-12 1st Test, Antigua
March 16-20 2nd Test, Barbados
March 24-28 3rd Test, Grenada