England v West Indies: Joe Denly left out of second Test
LONDON: England have dropped batsman Joe Denly and rested pace bowlers James Anderson and Mark Wood for the second Test against West Indies.
All-rounder Sam Curran and uncapped Sussex fast bowler Ollie Robinson have been named in a 13-man squad.
Denly, 34, averages 29.53 in 15 matches, and was out for 18 and 29 in the first Test loss in Southampton.
Captain Joe Root returns at Emirates Old Trafford and will bat at four, with Zak Crawley moving up to number three.
Root missed the first Test following the birth of his second child.
The squad for the second Test, which begins on Thursday, means pace bowler Stuart Broad is in line for a recall after being omitted in favour of Anderson, Wood and Jofra Archer in Southampton.
With England playing six Tests in the space of seven weeks, their fast bowlers were always likely to be rotated, with Chris Woakes also coming into contention to play in Manchester.
Robinson, 26, has taken 236 wickets in 56 first-class matches at an average of 22.33, and was part of the England Lions team that defeated Australia A down under earlier this year.
England squad for second Test against West Indies: Joe Root (Yorkshire) captain, Jofra Archer (Sussex), Dominic Bess (Somerset), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey) Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire).
Kent’s Denly made his Test debut against West Indies at the beginning of 2019 and has since batted everywhere in England’s top four.
He made his highest score of 94 in the fifth Test against Australia last summer, but has not passed 38 in his past eight innings.
It can be argued that Denly has brought some solidity to the England batting – only Root and Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne have faced more deliveries in Test cricket since he made his debut. However, he repeatedly fails to capitalise on good starts. From 28 innings, he has reached double figures on 24 occasions, but gone on to make only six half-centuries.
“Over a period of time Joe has done a brilliant job for us,” said Root. “He has helped show the identity of our side, how we want to play moving forward. He has laid the platform for guys behind to go on and make big scores.
“He’ll be as frustrated as anyone that he’s not been able to convert those opportunities. It’s certainly not a closed door for him.”
Denly’s omission means his Kent colleague Crawley has the opportunity to establish himself in the side.
The 22-year-old averages 31.25 in five Tests and made 76 in the second innings in Southampton.
“He played really well,” Root told BBC Sport. “You watch how he has gone about things since coming in, the way he keeps learning and developing, and his attitude towards things is very impressive.”
The second Test, like the first, will be played behind closed doors and in a bio-secure environment, and is the first of two back-to-back in Manchester.
The majority of West Indies’ tour has been spent in Manchester, where they were based for a month, isolating and training, before the first Test.
“I don’t think it will be an advantage,” said West Indies captain Jason Holder. “Most of the English players have played here more than us.
“We’re still in their backyard and they will know the conditions better than we do.”
West Indies, who have won four of their past six Tests against England, are now on the verge of a first series win in the UK since a 4-0 victory in 1988, when legends Sir Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge and Malcolm Marshall were in the side.
“There’s no pressure for us,” added Holder. “We don’t get caught up in the off-field noise. It’s about us focusing on what we need to do to win the series.
“The series is still wide open. There are 10 days of cricket left. It’s one day at a time for us. England are a very good team, they have some world-class players. We’ve got our work cut out to win another game.”
West Indies have not won an away Test series against teams other than Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in 25 years.
With his side on the verge of of their biggest Test success in a generation, Holder spoke to the prime ministers of Barbados, Grenada and St Vincent & the Grenadines on Tuesday.
“The reception that we have had, not only from the heads of government, but the people of the Caribbean has been tremendous,” said Holder.
“They all want us to win the series, so we have a lot more to play for. It was great knowing the prime ministers are 100% behind us. I was blown away.” (BBC)