After losing a thrilling test match in Southampton, England is determined to level the series against West Indies at Old Trafford, Manchester. However, the Brits' team selection is raising questions. They have not only rested their ace fast bowler James Anderson, but also decided not to include Jofra Archer in their lineup. Batsman, Joe Denly has also been left out.
Archer's elimination is particularly surprising, given that he outperformed all English bowlers during the second innings of the first Test, taking 3 for 45. In the first innings however, the 25-year old failed to claim any dismissals to his name.
Just before the second Test, the England Cricket Board (ECB) released a statement where they explained Archer's exclusion from the playing XI. According to the statement, Archer had breached the team's biosecurity protocols. As a result, he will have to undergo five days of self-isolation. During these five days, he would be tested twice for COVID-19. The English pacer will be able to rejoin his team only after his Test results show negative on both occasions.
Archer's absence could prove beneficial for the visitors. Old Trafford's conditions are typically pace and swing friendly. Now that the English brigade will step onto the ground without both Archer and Anderson, things may get tricky.
Stuart Broad has been recalled to lead the bowling unit, but his form isn't impressive these days. So, technically, England's bowling will be weaker during the second Test as compared to what they had during their Southampton encounter.
Joe Root will take over his captaincy duties from stand-in skipper Ben Stokes, who led from the front during the first match. Root missed the first Test since he was attending the birth of his second child.
34-year old Denly has so far played 15 Tests for England, where he averages a mere 29.53. In the last match, he was dismissed for 18 and 29 in first and second innings, respectively. It is understood that England is looking for an alternate batsman who can spend long hours in the crease and doesn't throw his wickets away.
England is scheduled to play six test matches within a space of just seven weeks. This means that they will be looking forward to reserving their best fast bowlers for the more important encounters. In such a scenario, they might follow a rotational policy over the next few weeks.
However, it is still hard to digest that they have dropped Anderson at a moment when they are trailing the three-match series 0-1. Another loss will mean that the hosts will fall behind in the ICC World Test Championship. They are currently at fourth with 146 points in 10 matches.