Jos Buttler (left) has been absent from the England Test team due to the rotation policy
Credit: SKY SPORTS
England captain Joe Root has confirmed that the controversial rotation policy will be ditched in Test cricket.
Under plans to control the workload for players and manage the amount of time that players spend in biosecure bubbles, England have not selected their full-strength side for any of their eight Tests played so far in 2021.
But Root has confirmed that the rotation policy will be ditched for England’s next two Test series, at home to India in August and this winter’s Ashes, beginning in December.
“We are coming into a period of time now where rest and rotation is put behind us,” Root said. “We now have 10 very hard Test matches against brilliant opposition coming up but it is a great opportunity for us to play some strong cricket and, if everyone is fit and available, we will have a good team ourselves.
“I would like to think that over the next five Test matches we will be trying to play our strongest side, or have our strongest squad available for those games. This is what you do it for, to ready yourself for this lead-in and in particular for the Ashes, to make sure everyone’s peaking for that, and these big games.”
The rotation policy has come under increasing criticism during England’s dire recent run of Test form. The side were heavily defeated in the final three Tests in India before losing the two-match series 1-0 at home to New Zealand earlier this summer.
The contrast with England’s Twenty20 side – the strongest possible teams were selected for the 3-0 series victory over a modest Sri Lanka side and the 3-2 T20 defeat by India in March – has led to accusations that England are not prioritising Test cricket.
“With Covid, and the amount of cricket that we’ve had, there’s been compromises made over different formats and different teams,” Root said, defending the rotation policy.
Whether England will be at full strength throughout the Ashes might depend on whether players’ families are allowed to travel to Australia. If they are not, then, with the T20 World Cup immediately preceding the Ashes tour, multi-format players such as Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes could miss some of the Ashes series.
“I really hope the families will be in Australia,” Root said. “It’s a really important aspect of that tour. With the amount of cricket that we’ve got it’s going to be really important.”
The Test series against India, which begins on Aug 4, will mark the start of the second iteration of the World Test Championship, after New Zealand won the first competition at the Ageas Bowl last week. With the next final set to be played in England in 2023, Root said that qualification was one of England’s main ambitions.
“Watching the WTC final and not being part of it, it makes you want to be a part of something quite special like that. We have an opportunity now to go a bit further than we did the first time. I’m looking forward to hopefully starting well with a full squad of players to pick from.”
Root is hoping to use the one-day international series against Sri Lanka, which cointinues at the Oval on Thursday, to further his chances of winning a T20 recall in time for the T20 World Cup in October. “Of course, I would love to be involved,” Root said. “It looks like a brilliant team to be a part of.”