Cricket: England v West Indies

Simon Hughes: Rotation of Broad and Anderson was success

Though England conceded a big score, they learned a lot about Finn and Onions

Simon Hughes: Rotation of Broad and Anderson was success

Although West Indies scored lots of runs, if you look at the bigger picture, England’s rotation policy was a success. At some stage in the next year to 18 months they’re going to need these two guys – Onions and Finn – so giving them a run out and checking out what they need to do to improve was a useful exercise.

England Coach Andy Flower said they both learned a lot from the experience and I would agree with him. The England team will have learned a lot about them as well.

While it was annoying for the two bowlers left out who were looking forward to some cheap wickets, the fact that the series was won gave England the chance to give other bowlers a go.

Without Broad and Anderson, Andrew Strauss looked a bit impotent at times, which highlighted their importance not only as wicket takers, but also for the ideas they bring. 

Strauss has many qualities as a captain, but I don’t think he understands bowling tactics and match situations as well as some leaders. But it’s a team game and you need others to help out. Strauss will have learned that he needs to take more affirmative action when Broad and Anderson are missing.

Jonny Bairstow
Though he’s been disappointing, Bairstow obviously has the rudiments to be a good Test batsman and  his promotion probably came a bit early in his development. He got the opportunity because of Morgan’s failings and Ravi Bopara’s injury.

Bairstow didn’t take his chance, but there have been many examples of fine batsmen who failed in their early days. The obvious one is Graham Gooch who became a great player. Bairstow now has a sense of what he has to do and he will probably succeed at this level at some time in his career.

But I doubt if England will pick him for the Tests against South Africa now. He has shown a few technical defects which the South Africans would look to exploit and his confidence will not be high. It’s odds on that England will look to play Bopara.

Having said that, there’s a lot of one-day cricket to be played against West Indies and Australia before the Test series. Who knows how Bairstow will perform in that series.

As a general rule, however, the England batsmen who have really prospered in the last 10 years have tended to come through in their mid- to late twenties. Alastair Cook is an exception but he was especially precocious. Marcus Trescothick, Michael Vaughan, Jonathan Trott and Alec Stewart were all quite late arrivals.