London : England on Tuesday announced a 16-member squad for the three-match Test tour of the Caribbean starting next month, leaving out senior pros — James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Apart from Broad and Anderson — the country’s two leading wicket-takers in Test cricket, England have also left out Dom Bess, Sam Billings, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan from the squad that toured Australia for the Ashes recently.
Even though the two seamers will be turning 40 and 36 respectively this summer, the interim director of England Men’s Cricket, Andrew Strauss has stressed that this isn’t the end of their international careers.
“In respect of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, I want to emphasise this does not mean the end for them as England players,” Strauss said.
“We feel that it is important to look at some exciting new bowling potential and give some added responsibility to other players who have featured previously. 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,” he added.
Notably, the humiliating 4-0 series defeat in Australia has already seen Ashley Giles, Chris Silverwood and Graham Thorpe lose their jobs as part of the support staff.
Of those who were part of the squad in Australia, Joe Root and Ben Stokes will lead the squad in the Caribbean while young batters Zak Crawley, who impressed with a half-century at the MCG, Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence retain their places alongside the more experienced Jonny Bairstow.
Chris Woakes and Craig Overton are the fast-bowling all-rounders while Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood complete the bowling stocks. Jack Leach partners Parkinson as the other spinner in the party.
England Men’s selection panel, consisting of Andrew Strauss, interim head coach Paul Collingwood and head scout James Taylor, have given the maiden call-up to Durham opener Alex Lees and Yorkshire seamer Matthew Fisher.
The 28-year old Lees, captained the Lions squad in Australia and has shown great potential in the County Championship over the past few years with Durham and previously Yorkshire. He scored 625 runs in last year’s Championship campaign, with a highest score of 129.
On the other hand, the 24-year-old Fisher took 20 wickets for Yorkshire last season at an average of 19.65 from County Championship matches. His control with the ball has impressed the England set-up for some time, and he was a stand-out performer for the Lions during the winter programme.
Alongside the new additions to the squad, the Lancashire duo of Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Parkinson will be aiming to make their Test debut in the Caribbean having featured in previous squads.
Meanwhile, Surrey wicketkeeper Ben Foakes also returns to the squad for the first time in under a year when he played the fourth Test in Ahmedabad last March against India.
“With the start of a new cycle, it has allowed the selection panel to refresh the Test squad with a particular focus on competing away from home,” Strauss said.
“We felt that it was time to draw a line after the Ashes defeat, look forward and give some impetus with an influx of new players. This selection of this squad is the start of a process and a journey to get England Test cricket back to where it needs to be, and the hard work starts now,” he added.
The three-match Test series forms part of the ICC World Test Championship and Joe Root’s team will be looking to climb the rankings after a disappointing start to the second edition of the Championship.
The touring party departs for the West Indies tour on Thursday 24 February.
Squad: Joe Root (C), Jonny Bairstow, Zak Crawley, Matthew Fischer, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood