England’s Test Rotation Policy Does Not Make Sense

England's Test Rotation Policy Does Not Make Sense
11.03.2021,13:03 144 0

The England batting unravelled against India to negate the possibility of reaching the ICC World Test Championship final, leading to various theories as to the reasons. After the third test, fingers began to be pointed at the quality of the Ahmedabad wicket. Some blamed the English batsmen’s inability to play spin. The real reason for England’s poor showing could have been England’s vaunted rotation policy. England have used as many as 20 players in six Test matches against Sri Lanka and India.

England Needed Strongest Eleven against India

The rotation policy has meant that the batting order has seen constant turmoil. While England have many like-for-like replacements, the rotation policy is always at risk of collapsing if players are either not available or in poor form. The policy did collapse in the third Test, following the departure of Moeen Ali and an inability to read pitch conditions in Motera. While there is no faulting the rationale behind the policy which aims at resting key players during the Covid-19 pandemic, the application of the policy leaves much to be desired. With a place in the WTC final at stake, the ECB should have ensured that the rotation policy did not prevent England from fielding their strongest eleven against India.

Rotation Policy Has Led to Overdependence on Root and Leach

There were several questionable decisions in England’s team selection. Why did James Anderson not play in the second Test after his match-winning performance in the first? While Ben Foakes displayed impeccable keeping, his batting was less than impressive. Added to the squad as late as the third Test, his lack of match practice caused Jonny Bairstow to cop a pair. His discomfort against spin was palpable. Moeen Ali, who had the bowling ability to shine on Indian wickets, took part only in the second Test, where his lack of match practice showed when he gave away cheap runs to Sharma and Rahane. Dom Sibley, who has been allowed to open often, has played relatively consistently. Burns, who has been in and out of the playing eleven, has not. A longer run would have benefited the likes of Ben Foakes and Ollie Pope, both of whom showed intent. In short, the rotation policy has led to overdependence of the team on Root and Leach, undermining the depth of talent at its disposal.

Ill-timed Replacements have Compounded England Woes

Why was Sam Curran not included in the squad? Curran had troubled India in the last Test series between the sides. Also, he had a brilliant run in the IPL 2020. Curran’s inclusion would have strengthened England’s batting as well as bowling while allowing them to avoid over-bowling Ben Stokes. The inclusion of Jos Buttler as keeper would have given England an attacking batsman who could put the pressure back on India on a low-scoring pitch. The inability of Ben Foakes to fit that role has hurt the tourists. Just as Anderson was left out of the second Test on a dry wicket that would have assisted him, Joffra Archer had to concede his place to a less effective Olly Stone. While Stone performed better than expected, he was dropped in the next game, while the relatively unimpressive Stuart Broad was retained. At the risk of repeating ourselves, England’s rotation policy does not make sense.

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