Squad rotation in Test cricket is here to stay

Andy Lloyd
ENGLAND’S top fast bowler James Anderson is understandably frustrated at being rested for tomorrow’s third Test against West Indies. He’s bowling beautifully and I would have selected him – but this kind of rotation is set to become common in first-class cricket.

In football the story is familiar; you hear of players like Wayne Rooney getting hacked off when they are dropped to protect their fitness. Rich clubs have big squads so they can cope with switching players around and, similarly, England’s Test side has a wealth of attacking talent to pick from.

Two really good replacements in Steven Finn and Graham Onions are waiting in the wings, and Chris Tremlett will return from injury at some point. As long as selectors have the squad that enables them to rotate, then it will happen.

England have a very scientific way of evaluating the workload placed on each bowler, assessing not only the number of overs bowled in matches, but also while practicing in the nets. They know when a player is most vulnerable to picking up an injury.

Each individual bowler will have his own evaluation. Of course spin bowlers won’t have as much taken out of them, and bigger fast bowlers will be hit especially hard.

The scientific approach is a new take on the game, a new way of looking at things.

But in this case I still think England’s selectors made the wrong decision. There must be a meeting point between the statistics and a bit of old fashioned common sense. Anderson would not have bowled more than 45 overs in the two innings at Edgbaston, and certainly not a full 60 overs.

It should be possible for the selectors to work in conjunction with captain Andrew Strauss. The on-field captain can follow instructions to prevent a seamer from bowling too many overs in succession.

I would have played Anderson in this Test, and then made sure he had a long break. He could have rested for the whole period between the end of this Test and the start of the crucial series against South Africa.

Despite this disagreement, England’s problems cannot compare to those of West Indies. We learned yesterday that Chris Gayle will return for the One Day International (ODI) series this month. He’s a great batsman but he’s from Jamaica, and the individual boards of West Indian islands have their own agendas.

I cannot make head nor tail of some of their selections. Why isn’t Ramnaresh Sarwan playing, for example? The West Indian board needs to be more united and pull in the same direction.

Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who captained, and then later acted as chairman of, Warwickshire.