We both utterly detest squad rotation and completely agree with it. We’d like to live in a world where it isn’t necessary. But it is.
We predicted squad rotation years ago, but it’s still only really seeping into the sport even now. Most teams do little more than flirt with the concept, resting players when they don’t especially care about a game and driving their stars into the ground with overuse when they do. Injuries have a tendency to test a team’s commitment to its plans too with resting players often called up to work overtime.
England’s insane 2021 fixture list has made rotation pretty much non-negotiable though. A strong desire to field a significantly less fast-medium attack overseas has also helped create an environment where the likes of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad can be rested without too big a backlash.
This is why we hate squad rotation though: cricket is an unequal sport. It’s the quick bowlers who miss out most often.
Despite bowling brilliantly in the first Test against India, Jimmy Anderson will sit out the second. We’re not annoyed about it happening. We’re only annoyed that it needs to happen.
The return of Stuart Broad will be a comfort at least.
The only other omission for the purpose of rest is Jos Buttler whose overall workload is exacerbated by being in demand for all of the colours of balls.
Jofra Archer also misses out, but only because of injury.
Dom Bess, meanwhile, has fallen victim to a good old-fashioned dropping – potentially triggering a very predictable headline about Moeen Ali on this website at some point soon.
Back in the day
It’s interesting to ponder modern notions of scheduled rest and the ‘rotation’ of players when you look back at old matches.
The final episode of the first series of The Ridiculous Ashes is about the sixth Test of the 1997 series. It’s not exactly a spoiler to say that by that point England had sourced a selectorial hat and were in full rabbit-pulling mode.
We don’t know if you’ve given The Ridiculous Ashes a go yet. If you haven’t, the logical thing to do is start with episode one, but we also have a theory that a great many people will decide to dip a toe with this latest episode because it was the most bonkers and therefore the most entertaining.