England ponder chance to rotate fast bowlers
With the series won, the selectors must decide whether it is worth resting Broad or Anderson
Since Andy Flower became England's coach he has frequently spoken of his desire to rotate fast bowlers. The strains on their bodies, while of course nothing compared to 50 years ago when they delivered 1,000 overs a season, drank eight pints a night and worked in proper jobs most winters, are feared too great to support their incessant, intensive workload.
If he and his fellow selectors are truly serious about rotation there may be no more appropriate time to start. England have already won the series against West Indies 2-0, with the third match starting in Birmingham next Thursday, and will announce their squad tomorrow.
The selectors are proud of the depth of their fast bowling resources and Andrew Strauss, the captain, has frequently made it clear that he would have been happy with any combination in the starting XI of the five seamers who have been in the squad for the opening two matches. That being so, and with the outcome of the rubber decided, it may be opportune to ask either Jimmy Anderson or Stuart Broad to step down for Graham Onions or Steve Finn.
It is unlikely to happen partly because there will have been a gap of 10 days between Tests and partly because there will be no more Tests until 19 July. Besides, the truth is that Anderson and Broad are one of the best opening pairs in the world, and despite Strauss's confidence, no permutation of Onions, Finn and Tim Bresnan quite comes into that category.
Broad and Anderson have confirmed that they wish to play in every match and adding to their wickets haul. Both have it in them to become England's greatest Test wicket-taker, Anderson if he can keep going for another 30 Tests, Broad a little further down the track.
If they are both named in a squad likely again to comprise 13 players, it will clearly be with the intention of playing them. But it would also leave the rotation policy looking a little forlorn.
The only other point of debate, probably lasting around 30 seconds in the selection room, is whether Jonny Bairstow should be omitted after his chastening experiences against the short ball in his first two matches. Bairstow did look uncomfortable against Kemar Roach but he has had only three innings in Test cricket, one of those 0 not out in the fag-end of the match at Lord's.
Fifty years ago, at the same time as bowlers were doing all that they did, he might have been dropped. Not now, and if he has a weakness the England nets may be the best place to overcome it. Bairstow did himself some favours by playing for Yorkshire in their Championship match this week against Northamptonshire and making 68.
The selectors may, however, have given passing mentions to Ben Stokes, who made a century yesterday on his return to the Durham side, and Nick Compton, who made a century for Somerset and thus reached a 1,000 runs on 1 June having been deprived by rain of becoming the ninth man to do so by the end of May. Stokes will play for England one day, Compton may not but he has done everything any selectors could reasonably expect.
There is no reduction in the intensity of the international calendar as the publication yesterday of next season's fixtures revealed. In the 2013 home season, England will play seven Tests including an Ashes series, eight one-day internationals, four Twenty20s and a Champions Trophy.
Nine grounds will be used in all: Trent Bridge will stage the first Test of an Ashes series for the first time since 1964, and Durham will stage an Ashes Test for the first time.
Likely line up: Summer schedule for 2013
Probable England squad for Third Test v West Indies
A J Strauss (Middlesex; captain), J M Anderson (Lancashire), J M Bairstow (Yorkshire), I Bell (Warwickshire), T T Bresnan (Yorkshire), S C J Broad (Notting-hamshire), A N Cook (Essex), S T Finn (Middlesex), G M Onions (Durham), K P Pietersen (Surrey), M J Prior (Sussex; wicketkeeper), G P Swann (Nottinghamshire), I J L Trott (Warwickshire).
England's summer 2013 schedule
16-20 May First Test v New Zealand (Lord's); 24-28 May Second Test v New Zealand (Headingley); 31 May First ODI v NZ (Lord's); 2 June Second ODI v NZ (Ageas Bowl); 5 June Third ODI v NZ (Trent Bridge); 25 June First T20 v NZ (Oval); 27 June Second T20 V NZ (Oval); 6-23 June Champions Trophy; 10-14 July First Test v Australia (Trent Bridge); 18-22 July Second Test v Australia (Lord's); 1-5 August Third Test v Australia (Old Trafford); 9-13 August Fourth Test v Australia (Durham); 21-25 August Fifth Test v Australia (Oval); 29 August First T20 v Australia (Ageas Bowl); 31 August Second T20 v Australia (Durham); 6 September First ODI v Australia (Headingley); 8 September Second ODI v Australia (Old Trafford); 11 September Third ODI v Australia (Edgbaston); 14 September Fourth ODI v Australia (SWALEC Stadium); 16 September Fifth ODI v Australia (Ageas Bowl); 3 September Ireland (ODI, Dublin)
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