Former England Captain David Gower has warned England’s risk of lowering their chances of winning a crucial test series in India by sticking unnecessarily to a player rotation policy.
Wicket-keeper Batsman Jos Butler is heading home after the first Test in Chennai starting on Friday, while Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Sam Curran are being rested until the third match of the four match test series.
Star all-rounder Ben Stokes & fast bowler Jofra Archer have returned to the playing squad after sitting out for the Sri Lanka series which England won by 2-0. Gower was sympathetic to the demands of a schedule that involves England play at least 17 tests in 2021 & said the strain of spending prolonged time inside bio-secure bubbles was something “you should not overlook”.
Gower questioned an approach that could risk England’s chances of a rare series success in India & thereby risk a place in the inaugural World Test Championship final against New Zealand at Lord’s in June.
“Forget the World Test Championship for a moment, this is now as historic a series as any,” said Gower, who led England to a 2-1 triumph in India in 1984/85.
“India-England is one of the flagstaff series, it’s an immense series, a box-office series,” added Gower, one of England’s greatest batsmen who was answering questions from reporters as part of a podcast to be aired Thursday.
“As a Test fan, I’m slightly annoyed England have already made plans for Jos Butler to play the one Test match.
“Just as an Englishman, wanting England to do well in this series, you want the best players to be available for as much of it as possible.”
England split up the pace pair of James Anderson & Stuart Broad in Sri-Lanka but Gower said it was evident that the duo who have more than 1,100 test wickets scalped together were still team’s best bowlers. “As long as England pick their best XI, they will be competitive,” he insisted.
Joe Root on Friday will join Gower as one of the 15 cricketers who have played 100 tests for England. “If you look at Joe’s figures, he is the most successful of all of us who have reached that 100-Test mark,” said Gower.
“Compared to (Geoffrey) Boycott, (Kevin) Pietersen, (Alastair) Cook, he is ahead of the game, added the 63-year-old left-hander, who finished his 117-match career with 8,231 runs at an average of more than 44.
Two of Root’s 19 test centuries comprises innings of 228 & 186 which were scored last month in Sri Lanka and Gower said that, without them, “England might well have come second“.