Sidelining their second-highest wicket-taker in the first Test against the West Indies proved to be an ill-advised move for England.
At the start of the preparation for the first Test of the #raisethebat Series between England and West Indies, many pondered who would partner the ever-present James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the English pace attack.
With the legendary duo and skipper Ben Stokes forming three-fourths of the pace quartet, the final spot was a toss between express-quick Mark Wood and the wily Jofra Archer. However, the team management caught everyone off-guard by naming both Wood and Archer in the playing XI alongside Anderson, leaving Broad huffing and puffing on the sidelines.
The management’s decision was, reportedly, based solely on the pitch report, which stated that the surface was more conducive to Wood's extra pace over Broad’s lethal length and bounce. Broad was clearly incensed by the call and was sure to air his grievances in an interview with Sky Sports.
"I'm not a particularly emotional person but I've found the last couple of days quite tough. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement....I'm frustrated, angry, gutted.
"It's difficult to understand. I've probably bowled the best I've ever bowled the last couple of years -- I felt it was my shirt," said the veteran pacer.
The move clearly backfired as Wood picked up just two wickets in the contest and was rendered rather ineffective by the West Indies batsmen as they emerged victorious after a hard-fought battle over five days.
West Indies skipper Jason Holder, who, like Broad, is not the quickest but uses his height to great effect and is pretty accurate with his line, dismantled England’s batting order in the first innings, picking up six wickets and further illustrating that the management missed a trick by leaving Broad on the sidelines for this contest.
Broad was sensational in England’s last Test series in South Africa and was their leading wicket-taker, notching up 18 scalps in four matches at an average of 19.43 and a strike-rate of 50.64.
England certainly overcomplicated their gameplan or perhaps underestimated the West Indies team, but nevertheless, find themselves 0-1 down in the series and need all hands on deck at Old Trafford to help them bounce back from this result.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Mike Hewitt
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