ECB outlines rotation policy
England are set to send a weakened squad to Bangladesh for their tour early next year after Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, confirmed the board would manage the workload of senior players during another packed year.
England finish their tour of South Africa in mid-January before a month-long break, ahead of visiting Bangladesh until March 25. The ICC World Twenty20 begins at the end of April, then England have a full home season, which includes contests against Bangladesh, Australia and Pakistan before they defend the Ashes at the end of next year. Following that there is the 2011 World Cup in Asia.
"Given the schedules we have to prioritise what we are doing," Morris told reporters in South Africa. "We have to say that global events are obviously a big priority, the Ashes is a big priority, and the India and South Africa series.
"We need to get into a position where each player gets the right amount of preparation, the right amount of matches and the right amount of rest. In that regard we have to look very closely at the resting of players for series, parts of series, matches, as we have started to do."
Possible candidates to sit out the Bangladesh trip could include Andrew Strauss, Paul Collingwood, Stuart Broad and James Anderson. However, if Strauss was to rest, it would require new captains for the Test and one-day teams. Alastair Cook, the Test vice-captain, would be the likely choice in the longer format, but the one-day position is less clear, especially if Collingwood is also rested.
However, Morris made it clear that any of the players who are given time off and also hold IPL contracts would not be allowed an extended spell at the tournament, which now overlaps with the start of the Bangladesh series after the dates were pushed back two weeks.
"If England are playing cricket and we rest somebody, we would not expect them to play in any other form of cricket," Morris said. "We will look at each of the players and see where we get to in the next couple of weeks."
The one-day series in Bangladesh, which comes before the Tests, has also been earmarked by Andrew Flintoff for his comeback. Flintoff recently declined an incremental contact so that he could go freelance and play around the world in Twenty20 tournaments, but reiterated his availability for England duty.
However, Morris confirmed he had asked Flintoff's agent, Andrew Chandler, for written assurance of Flintoff's availability. "I have had an undertaking that he is available from 'Chubby' [Chandler]," Morris said. "I have had that in writing. People have to be committed to whatever programme we have in place."
"Everything with them has been fine and above board," said Flintoff of his dealings with the ECB. "They know where we're at, and the reasons we're doing what we're doing. I'm available for every England game, except obviously Test matches, and for whatever they want me to do. Like every other player who plays for a county, you have to perform to get in the side.
"My motives are true," Flintoff added. "I want to play for England for a period of time, and I'd love to play more Test cricket but it's a physical impossibility, so the next best thing for me is to play ODIs and Twenty20s. Playing for England is what I've wanted to do since I was a kid, and I feel lucky to do it. I don't know how long left I've got to do it, so I want to play every possible game."