England Cricket Board (ECB) interim managing director Andrew Strauss has expressed no regrets over dropping James Anderson and Stuart Broad for the West Indies Test series. The former England captain also said that the management's target is to help the team become a top one across formats.
England made a selection bombshell ahead of the three-Test series against the West Indies, omitting Anderson and Broad. The pair, who have 1177 Test wickets between them, were far from pleased with the axing. England's bowlers fared rather well during the 4-0 Ashes drubbing Down Under.
Nevertheless, Anderson and Broad were left out of the West Indies squad. However, Strauss has said that it's not the end of the road for the legendary pair.
Strauss anticipated the backlash over the veteran's omission. However, he felt the likes of Saqib Mahmood and Matt Fisher would bring fresh energy to the group. The 100-Test veteran said, as quoted by the Daily Mail:
"I think the reaction was entirely predictable. You don't do these things worried about what the reaction is; you do them because you think it's the right thing to do. It's great to see Matt Fisher and Saqib Mahmood as part of the England setup. I think we're learning about them all the time, and they're getting more and more comfortable in this group. And as we said right at the start, it's forced some of our senior players to have slightly different roles."
The former South African-born player added after a draw in the first Test in Antigua:
"It's early days, but the feedback I'm getting from the dressing room is they're accepting the challenge of not having those senior players involved, and I thought the attitude, willingness to do hard graft, spirit and togetherness were there to see in Antigua. We didn't get the result we wanted, but there were a lot of positives coming out of it."
Although the first Test in Antigua ended in a draw, England's new-ball bowlers struggled in both innings. Craig Overton and Chris Woakes picked up only three wickets in the Test, with the West Indies openers putting up 50-plus opening stands in both innings.
"Our ambition has to be for us to be the best team in all formats" - Andrew Strauss
While Strauss added that the management aims to reset England's red ball cricket, he stressed the need for the team to play well across formats. Adding that the performance in one format affects the other, the 45-year old told BBC:
"While a lot of the focus post-Ashes has been on red ball cricket and the domestic structure, our project is broader than that. Our ambition has to be for us to be the best team in all formats."
"We have the ability to do that, and in order for that to happen, we have to look at the whole system. Whatever your focus on red ball cricket, it's like a Rubik's Cube, and it affects white ball cricket. You cannot look at them in isolation; you have to look at them together."
The second Test between the West Indies and England starts on March 16 in Barbados.