I have no regrets over Anderson and Broad: Andrew Strauss stands firm on omitting veteran strike pair despite England’s first-Test struggles with ball against West Indies
- England’s red-ball reset began with a draw in the first Test against West Indies
- They made the controversial decision to leave Broad and Anderson at home
- The new-ball partnership of Chris Woakes and Craig Overton did not impress
- Mark Wood’s injury looks set to hand Saqib Mahmood a Test debut
Andrew Strauss watched England’s injury ravaged attack go through their paces at the Kensington Oval on Monday but insisted he has no regrets about his controversial decision to leave Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad at home.
The man charged with implementing England’s ‘red-ball re-set’ hopes it will return the team to the top of the world not just in Test cricket but all three formats.
But while Strauss spoke about his plans, England were trying to piece together another new look attack for Wednesday’s second Test in the absence of the big two.
Stuart Broad (L) and Jimmy Anderson were controversially left out of the West Indies series
England director Andrew Strauss insists that he has no regrets over making the decision
Mark Wood is almost certainly out of the rest of this series with a worrying elbow issue while Ollie Robinson was put through a long session on Monday to try to prove his fitness after a recurrence of his back condition.
But despite injury problems that look certain to hand Saqib Mahmood a Test debut here on Wednesday, Strauss is relaxed about a decision that led to an unlikely new-ball partnership of Chris Woakes and Craig Overton struggling in the drawn first Test.
‘I think the reaction was entirely predictable,’ said the former England captain when asked about the backlash over the call. ‘You don’t do these things worried about what the reaction is, you do them because you think it’s the right thing to do.
‘It’s great to see Matt Fisher and Saqib Mahmood as part of the England set up. I think we’re learning about them all the time and they’re getting more and more comfortable in this group. And as we said right at the start it’s forced some of our senior players to have slightly different roles.
The new-ball partnership of Chris Woakes (R) and Craig Overton did not manage to impress
‘It’s early days but the feedback I’m getting from the dressing room is they’re accepting the challenge of not having those senior players involved and I thought the attitude, willingness to do hard graft, spirit and togetherness were there to see in Antigua.
‘We didn’t get the result we wanted but there were a lot of positives coming out of it.’ England on Monday advertised for the role of Ashley Giles successor as managing director and the man who insists he can only do the job on a short-term basis hopes the new person and new coach will be in place for the first Test against South Africa on June 2.
Strauss also expects a separate white-ball coach and a return of the national selector Giles decided to do away with when he handed former coach Chris Silverwood the poisoned chalice of total responsibility.
‘Ultimately it will be the new managing director’s decision but my perspective is to go down the two-coach route,’ said Strauss. ‘And I believe a degree of independence alongside the coaches and captains makes it a more robust decision making process.’ Strauss describes what has been called the ‘red-ball re-set’ a high-performance review he hopes will bring the game together with recommendations he wants to see introduced in the domestic game in time for the 2023 season.
At the crux will be the desire to try to take England’s Test team back to the top of the world for the first time since Strauss’s side emerged from a difficult Caribbean tour of their own in 2009 to top the rankings two years later.
‘The moment you turn your back on Test cricket it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,’ added Strauss, who believes there needs to be more professionalism in English cricket. ‘I certainly would hate England to do that.
‘I think we’ve got the strongest history and tradition around Test cricket and our public love Test cricket, you only have to see how many come out here. Our ambition has to be to drive Test cricket forward and play in a way that’s engaging and exciting and people want to watch it.’ Meanwhile Robinson will have to come through another long bowl on Tuesday before England are satisfied of his fitness but he looks likely to come back into the side in place of Overton with Mahmood replacing Wood.
One bowler England would love to call on is Jofra Archer, who joined them in the nets on Monday and looks to be returning to somewhere near full fitness. But he is still taking what are said to be ‘baby steps’ and will not be rushed into returning ahead of this summer.