England have dropped batsman Joe Denly and rested pacemen James Anderson and Mark Wood for the second Test against the West Indies starting today, with Joe Root returning as captain. Root missed last week’s four-wicket loss in the first Test following the arrival of his second child.
But the star batsman has slotted back into the side for the Test at Old Trafford. The hosts, who face a gruelling schedule of six Tests in seven weeks, including three against Pakistan, have decided to give Anderson and Wood, who both played at Southampton, a break.
Stuart Broad, controversially dropped for the series opener, returns. Left-arm paceman Sam Curran has also been recalled while Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson has been included in a Test squad for the first time.
The 34-year-old Denly was always likely to make way after two low scores in last week’s loss left him with a modest average of 29.53 from 15 Tests.
Denly’s place was put under further threat by an innings of 76 from Kent team-mate Zak Crawley at the Ageas Bowl.
“It’s never an easy decision, never easy having to leave someone out,” Root told a conference call yesterday.
“Joe is someone who has done a fantastic job for us over a period of time and he’ll be as frustrated as anyone that he’s not been able to covert those opportunities,” he said before it was announced that Anderson and Wood had been left out. He added the decision to omit Broad at Southampton “wasn’t taken lightly”.
“But one thing you can guarantee with Stuart is when he gets his opportunity again he will desperate to prove a lot of people wrong and put in a really strong performance,” Root said.
Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler has been retained despite dropping Jermaine Blackwood early in the West Indies’ batsman’s match-clinching innings of 95 at Southampton. Another pair of low scores left Buttler with a Test average of just 23.22 since the start of 2019 and now only one hundred in 75 innings.
But Root, encouraged by Buttler’s first-innings 35, said his fellow World Cup-winner was close to cracking Test cricket.
“It’s just a matter of time before we see some of those special innings we’ve seen in white-ball cricket,” he said. “His performances can transfer across.”
Although this series is unusual, with no spectators at grounds and bowlers banned from using saliva to shine the ball to combat the spread of Covid-19, England are in a familiar position.
For the eighth time in 10 campaigns they have lost the first Test, most recently they bounced back to win a series in South Africa.
“It’s quite frustrating,” said Root. “The pleasing thing is there’s been times when that’s been the case and we’ve still come out and won the series. That’s the challenge now.”
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