A week on from seeking reassurances over his England future Stuart Broad is set for a leading role in the second Test against the West Indies, with James Anderson and Mark Wood rested.
Broad was left out on home soil for the first time in eight years in the #raisethebat series opener and caused a stir with a stark television appearance in which he described himself “frustrated, gutted and angry”.
England went on to lose the match by four wickets and will take the field at Emirates Old Trafford on Thursday morning showing at least three changes to their XI, one of which will surely see Broad’s comeback as leader of the attack.
The return of captain Joe Root led to the almost inevitable dropping of Joe Denly after 15 unconvincing appearances at the highest level, but Anderson and Wood have both been left out of a 13-man squad with an eye on workload management.
As if to ram the point home the pair were officially listed as ‘rested’ by the England and Wales Cricket Board, rather than among a separate group of seven reserve players.
The condensed nature of the schedule meant a rotation policy among the quicks was always forecast and, after sending down a combined 74 overs at the Ageas Bowl, Anderson and Wood have been shuffled out. For England’s record wicket-taker it means he must wait until the third Test to bowl from the James Anderson End at his home ground.
All-rounder Sam Curran and uncapped Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson were promoted in their absence, though Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes is arguably next in line.
Curran does offer a point of difference as a left-armer and his footmarks may also be of benefit to off-spinner Dom Bess, but Woakes has a bowling average of 23.45 and a batting average of 35.23 in English conditions and brings plenty of experience to bear.
Root, who watched the action last week with his family’s new arrival Isabella, will hope to harness Broad’s disgruntlement at Manchester but accepts circumstances are moving towards regularly splitting the hard labour of fast bowling.
Anderson and Broad may be the top two wicket-takers in England’s history but they are also 37 and 34 respectively, and may benefit from the lighter load.
“With Stuart and Jimmy, trying to maximise their careers is really important to make sure they are playing for as long as possible,” said Root.
“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 think it is important that we don’t wish them away too early or look elsewhere too quickly. I think to wish that away early or to push them to one side would be stupid, I really do.
“But I think we’ve got to deal with it well – be smart with it – and we will find opportunities to play other guys too.”
Denly is a player whose body of work at the highest level is considerably thinner than Anderson or Broad, 15 Tests with an average of 29.53 and no centuries.
At 34 he is 12 years older than Kent team-mate Zak Crawley, who could well have a long and brighter future and will inherit his spot at number three.
Denly’s ability to chew up time and deliveries has been a boon to the middle order since he debuted in January 2019 has been a useful asset but his failure to go on to telling scores has ultimately counted against him. With Dan Lawrence and James Bracey annointed as the next batsmen in line, he may not been seen again.
“Joe has done a brilliant job over a period of time for us and I suppose he’s helped show our identity as a side, the way we want to play moving forward,” said Root.
“He’s been a big part of that by batting long periods of time and laying the platform for the middle order to go on and make big scores. It’s a very difficult decision we’ve had to make but we’ve gone a different way.
“You watch Zak’s progression since he’s been involved in the team and his game has continued to get stronger.”