England should resist urge to rest pace attack and go for jugular
ENGLAND’S unassailable 2-0 lead in the current series with West Indies gives them the luxury of being able to rest players, such as key seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, for the third Test, but I think they would be mad to do so.
Sure, there is an important summer ahead and you would want your star men fresh for a Test series against South Africa that promises to be far tougher than this one, but hang on: these guys are not playing an extreme amount.
It could be argued that taking 40 wickets in two Tests that follow in quick succession and under increasingly sweltering conditions is gruelling, but England have nine days off before the third Test. That’s ample time for Anderson, Broad and Co to put their feet up, have a few lemonades and recharge their batteries.
What’s more, if I were an England bowler I certainly wouldn’t be wanting to sit out the third match of this series. They must be sniffing wickets against the Windies and the chance to take 10 in a match, as Broad already has at Lord’s and others may repeat, does not come around too often.
If there is concern about players suffering wear and tear then the three one-day matches and a Twenty20 that follow the Test are the ideal time to ease the burden.
It is firmly in England’s interests to field their strongest possible side in the hope of completing a 3-0 whitewash at Edgbaston, starting next week. South Africa, who arrive in July, represent a more stringent examination and Andrew Strauss’s men will feel go into that three-match series feeling far more bold if they build on their momentum.
The only player whose performance has let him down so far is Test newcomer Jonny Bairstow. The Yorkshireman has been unconvincing to say the least against aggressive short pitch bowling which, while not common at county level, is nothing new.
He needs to find a way to combat the likes of Kemar Roach, although I would keep him in the side for Edgbaston and review after that, which I suspect is exactly what England’s selectors will do.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who captained, and then later acted as chairman of, Warwickshire