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England axe Anderson and Broad: a ‘seismic’ decision or ‘strong message’?

England’s two leading wicket-takers have been left out of the West Indies tour 

In response to the 4-0 hammering by Australia in the Ashes, England cricket selectors have made major changes to the Test squad for the upcoming tour of the West Indies. Eight players who featured in the Ashes series have been dropped – including two of English cricket’s all-time star performers. 

James Anderson and Stuart Broad, England’s two leading wicket-takers, have been left out of the 16-man squad for the three-Test series in the Caribbean. The decision to drop the veteran bowlers has sparked huge debate among cricket pundits and fans. 

Anderson, 39, is both the “most prolific and experienced seamer in Test history” with 640 scalps in 169 matches, Sky Sports said. While 35-year-old Broad has taken 537 wickets in 152 appearances. 

The “post-Ashes cull” has already seen head coach Chris Silverwood, assistant Graham Thorpe and managing director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles lose their jobs. The changes have now moved “on field”.

Joe Root continues as captain of the Test team while Paul Collingwood has been named interim head coach and Andrew Strauss takes on the role of interim managing director. 

‘An earthquake in cricketing terms’

The fallout from the “disastrous” Ashes tour was “never going to be restricted to administrators”, said Vithushan Ehantharajah in The Independent. But Anderson and Broad are “comfortably the most contentious axings so far”.

Mark Ramprakash, former England batsman and batting coach, said it was a “seismic” decision to drop the bowling duo. “I mean this is really an earthquake in cricketing terms,” he told Sky Sports. “I never saw this coming because really there’s been so much focus on England’s poor batting displays, particularly in Australia but also last summer, and it seems that these two great bowlers may have paid the price for the Ashes defeat.”

Anderson and Broad “weren’t anywhere near to blame” for the Ashes defeat, ex-England bowler Steve Harmison said on talkSPORT. “If anything, I’m looking at shining lights – probably Mark Wood was the standout performer [in Australia], then you’re looking at Broad and Anderson.”

However, former England skipper Michael Vaughan believes that “culling” the country’s greatest ever bowlers “sends a strong message”. Writing in The Telegraph, Vaughan said he was “quite happy with this selection” as Root and the panel “clearly feel that they need to move away from that pair” and build a new team without Broad and Anderson.

England bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson 

Stu Forster/Getty Images for ECB

Strauss: it’s not the end

Interim managing director Strauss said it was “time to draw a line after the Ashes defeat” and changes were made to the squad to “give some impetus with an influx of new players”. But even though Anderson and Broad will not travel to the Caribbean, their England careers are not over. 

“In respect of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, I want to emphasise this does not mean the end for them as England players,” Strauss added. “No one doubts the quality and experience that James and Stuart bring to the England set-up. It will be up to the new managing director and permanent head coach to decide on whether they will be involved this summer and beyond.”

England 16-man Test squad for the West Indies tour

  • Joe Root (Yorkshire, captain), Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Matthew Fisher (Yorkshire), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Alex Lees (Durham), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Craig Overton (Somerset), Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Ben Stokes (Durham), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)

West Indies vs. England Test fixtures 

Four-day warm-up match
  • When: 1-4 March 
  • Where: Coolidge Cricket Ground, Antigua
First Test
  • When: 8-12 March 2022
  • Where: Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, North Sound, Antigua
  • UK start time: 2pm 
Second Test
  • When: 16-20 March 2022
  • Where: Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados
  • UK start time: 2pm
Third Test
  • 24-28 March 
  • Where: National Cricket Stadium, St George’s, Grenada
  • UK start time: 2pm

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