England to prioritise fast bowlers fitness

England captain Andrew Strauss said the team management will speak to the fast bowlers and take a decision of resting them AFP

Nottingham: May 29, 2012

England are considering ignoring the old adage of ‘never change a winning side’ in a bid to ensure their leading bowlers remain fit for a packed programme of international cricket.

The hosts took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Test series against the West Indies courtesy of a crushing nine-wicket win, achieved with more than a day to spare, at Trent Bridge on Monday.

There is just over a week until the third Test gets underway at Edgbaston on June 7 and normally England would be reluctant to make changes on grounds of squad rotation at such an early stage of their home international season.

England’s usual policy when resting players has been to give them time off in one-day series rather than Tests.

But they could change tack with a crowded fixture schedule on the horizon.

Once this Test campaign is over, there is a one-day series against the West Indies before Australia visit for a purely limited overs campaign ahead of a full tour, featuring Tests and one-dayers, by South Africa.

Later this year England defend their World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka before playing four Tests in India.

“We’ll definitely think about changes,” said captain Andrew Strauss, after top-scoring in both of England’s innings at Trent Bridge, where he made 141 — his second hundred in as many Tests — and 45.

“We’ve always viewed resting and rotating as something you have to do on a case-by-case basis so we’ll speak to the seamers, see how they’re feeling and see how we’re looking for the rest of the summer.

“It’s always a balance to strike because primarily you want to win every Test you play: that’s the starting point.

“We’ll have a conversation about it in the coming days.”

England have made great play of the strength of their seam bowling resources and in Steven Finn and Graham Onions, yet to feature in the series despite being included in 13-man squads, they have two proven performers.

“It’s a difficult situation and I certainly wouldn’t want to nail my colours to the mast one way or the other,” said Strauss.

“At this stage we have to sit down, think it through rationally and decide what the best course of action is, both for the Test match and for the long-term prospects of the team over the summer.”

Someone who has no desire to rest is seam bowler Tim Bresnan.

The Yorkshireman’s place was under threat coming into the second Test but he responded with a man-of-the-match display, taking eight wickets in the match and scoring a handy 39 not out that helped England to a first innings lead.

It also meant he extended his winning streak, with Bresnan victorious in all his 13 Tests.

And with an eight-day gap between this match and the third Test, Bresnan said: “That’s ample time to recover from the last two weeks. I thoroughly expect to be fresh and available for selection.” (AFP)