England enter brave new world of strength in depth

Strauss says squad needs to have '16 or 17' players to compete as Anderson sits out third Test today

England are entering a brave new world today. It is also unknown, which is the point of new worlds, and if they find it as amenable as they intend the future holds rich promise.

But there is also an underlying concern that it will not be all that it looks, and that they will be irrevocably weakened. They will take the field for the Third Investec Test against West Indies without Jimmy Anderson, and with Kevin Pietersen in a different role as a one-format cricketer. Both these changes could have a profound effect on England's direction as the captain, Andrew Strauss, conceded yesterday.

The resting of Anderson, leader of England's vaunted attack, may herald the start of a rotation policy which could mark the rapid expansion of the squad. But Anderson may continue to nurse his disaffection with his omission.

Pietersen's vexatious decision last week to retire from limited-overs cricket means that he is now a Test batsman pure and simple, and that could yet bring the very best out of him. But he too was annoyed that England refused to allow him to continue Twenty20 but not 50-over ODIs – they argued that it was all or nothing.

"I certainly wouldn't want to speak for Kevin but I think in some ways he's relieved it's all been d one, dusted and dealt with," said Strauss. "From a team point of view I think we're all keen to move forward. I think it's a decision he has every right to make as an international cricketer. He was aware of what he was doing and what the ramifications would be.

"I'm sure that one of the reasons he has made it is that he'll feel that this allows him to prolong his Test career and perform for longer and more consistently. I still think he's got a hell of a lot more cricket left in him for England."

To help to ensure that Anderson has a hell of a lot of cricket left in him is precisely why England have omitted him from the team today. They appear determined that it will not simply be a one-off and have risked the wrath of their best bowler, who has made it plain he wanted to play, by using him as a kind of launching pad.

"From Jimmy's point of view, the rotation policy is a bit of a tricky subject," said Strauss. "But we know that with the current demands on our bowlers they can't play every game of cricket so you have to look at opportunities where you can give the odd one a rest and this opportunity has presented itself.

"My genuine belief is the sides that will perform most consistently in world cricket in all three forms of the game are the ones with the most strength in depth and that's the way we've got to look at it. We need to get a squad of 16, 17 players who can perform at international standard."

Some of this, perhaps all, could be eradicated by a reduction in an overcrowded international fixture list but that was a road down which Strauss was unprepared to travel no matter how brave the world he and his colleagues are exploring. Schedules, he said, are up to administrators. Players just looked at it from the playing point of view and wanted to be paid as well as possible, which is the nub of the whole issue.

These may be mere irritants of more interest to gossip mongers, which have little bearing on dressing-room harmony. But they may also be the first stirrings of unrest among a team which has been together a long time.

If England really mean rotation business they may seize the opportunity to rest Stuart Broad from today's match. Strauss did not rule out the prospect, though that was probably because, had he announced Broad's omission, that would also have revealed the team, which is certainly not England policy no matter how brave or new the world.

It is a Test that England can expect to win whatever their bowling quartet, and if Broad does not play it will also be a proper examination of the depth that is so often spoken about. Let it not be forgotten that England have shown plenty of evidence of it. Graham Onions looks in splendid form but the feeling is that if there is only change, then Steve Finn will be chosen.

West Indies are certain to award a maiden Test appearance to the mystery off-spinner, Sunil Narine, of whom they are not alone in expecting great things. Narine has had a significant effect on all the team for whom he has played in the last six months but he may find English pitches and a Dukes ball he has used little a different proposition.

Darren Sammy, the tourists' captain, said: "He has five-wicket hauls in seven or so first-class games he has played this year and he is a good inclusion in the squad for us and hopefully this is the start of something that could be a great Test career."

West Indies may recall fast bowler Tino Best after three years and also seem set to drop the woefully out-of-form batsman, their vice-captain Kirk Edwards, and recall Narsingh Deonarine. That may entail a shuffle of the batting order, though considering its fragility that will hardly matter. If the weather permits, England should go 3-0 up long before Monday.

Edgbaston details

England (probable): A J Strauss (capt), A N Cook, I J L Trott, K P Pietersen, I R Bell, J M Bairstow, M J Prior (or S M Davies; wkt), T T Bresnan, S C J Broad, G P Swann, S T Finn.

West Indies (probable): D J G Sammy (capt), A B Barath, K O A Powell, D M Bravo, S Chanderpaul, M N Samuels, N Deonarine, D Ramdin (wkt), S P Narine, T L Best, R Rampaul.

Umpires H D P K Dharmasena (SL) & A L Hill (NZ)

Pitch report Green tinge when it was briefly uncovered yesterday betrayed likelihood of result should the rain hold off. Only four of the last 20 matches have been drawn.

TV Sky Sports 1, 10.30am-7pm. Highlights: Channel 5, 7-8pm

Weather

Today Persistent rain, turning heavy at times. Maximum temp: 14C

Tomorrow Similar conditions; 13C

Saturday Dry and overcast; 15C

Sunday Mixture of sun/showers; 15C

Monday Patchy rain; 15C

Arts and Entertainment
TV Review: rSabotage, a major meltdown and, of course, plenty of sauce
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100'Geography can be tough'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
sport
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?