England will consider splitting up their record-breaking bowling duo Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad for this week’s second Test against New Zealand to manage their workloads and avoid the risk of unnecessary fatigue.
Anderson and Broad set a record for wickets taken playing together (1,009), passing the mark of 1,001 by Australia greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, during the crushing 267-run defeat of New Zealand at Mount Maunganui.
However, Anderson, Broad and Ollie Robinson have since reported stiffness and soreness, so there is a possibility Olly Stone and Matthew Potts could come in for tomorrow’s match in Wellington.
England’s policy under the captaincy of Ben Stokes has been to select the strongest available team but with the Ashes now less than four months away, the selectors may err on the side of caution. Stokes said last week he wanted eight seamers to take on Australia in June and July. Plans are already being drawn up to manage bowlers’ workloads at the beginning of a home summer that will feature five Tests against the Aussies in less than seven weeks.
Senior trio Anderson, Broad and Robinson will discuss their preferences for building up to that series with Test coach Brendon McCullum at the end of this tour.
England will consider resting Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad for this week’s second Test
Olly Stone (above) and Matthew Potts could come in for Thursday’s match in Wellington
England are inclined to allow another of their centrally contracted players, Jofra Archer, to build up his loads with Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.
Fellow 90mph man Mark Wood will tread a similar short-form path with Lucknow Super Giants.
Bowlers on ECB development deals such as Nottinghamshire’s Stone, Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood, Yorkshire’s Matt Fisher and Durham’s Brydon Carse are due to have their individual schedules drawn up in meetings with performance director Mo Bobat and their respective counties over the next four weeks.
One cloud looming ahead of the Ashes is the question of how England get Jonny Bairstow into the side. It is a nice problem to have but it is one Stokes recognised when he talked about ‘selection nightmares’ after the first Test here.
As long as Bairstow fully recovers from the broken ankle he suffered in freak circumstances last summer, England will have a big call to make.
McCullum has already said Bairstow walks back into this England side when he is fit — and rightly so after the Yorkshireman became the first symbol of Bazball with that thrilling century against New Zealand at Trent Bridge.
So, with Bairstow now running again and expected to be fit to take his place in the IPL with Punjab Kings ahead of England starting their Test summer with a one-off game against Ireland, one of this all-conquering side has to go.
There is no chance of England leaving out Harry Brook, who looks to be a certain starter in every format for at least the next 10 years, while Joe Root remains indispensable and Ollie Pope has been earmarked as the next Test captain.
That leaves the possibility of Bairstow opening — he does it in 50-over cricket and the way England are playing, why not in Test cricket, too? — but Ben Duckett is making a strong case to face Australia while England’s faith in Zak Crawley remains undimmed.
All of which points to Bairstow taking back the gloves and the highly unfortunate Ben Foakes missing out, despite keeping as well as ever and making an important contribution with the bat in Mount Maunganui. Foakes knows all about the disappointment of missing out through no fault of his own, not least in the second Test against Pakistan when he recovered from illness only to see Pope retain the gloves to allow England the luxury of an extra bowler.
The return of Jonny Bairstow will present a big selection dilemma for England
The difference now is that he is enjoying himself so much in this England side that he is determined not to fret about what might happen when Bairstow comes back. ‘There’s no point stressing over it,’ he said. ‘I’m producing some good form now and I’m just trying to enjoy that rather than stressing about what might happen.’
There is no doubting the class of Foakes with gloves or bat. He accepts he does not fit in with the swashbuckling image of this England side, but they need a bit of orthodox ballast, which he provided with a half century in the first Test.
‘I’m not, as you’d say, Bazball,’ admitted Foakes. ‘So I have been thinking, “How do I go about this?” But ever since I came in it hasn’t been, “You have to try to hit every ball for six”. It’s been, “Play your way, but if the option is on, don’t um and aah about it, just go for it”.
‘I can’t do what a lot of the guys in our side can, so if I did try to hit it from ball one I’d just get out anyway. I doesn’t make sense for me to try. And I do think when I have contributed it’s been batting normally in more pressurised situations when you can’t lose a wicket. Staying true to myself is how I can impact the most.’