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June 21, 2012
News : Bell sympathy for paying fans
Report : Cook hundred seals series for England
Features : Dependable England play to their strengths
News : England rest Broad, Bresnan and Swann
Features : Gayle return further exposes tourists
Matches: England v West Indies at Leeds
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of England
Some supporters are complaining that they are being short-changed and former England internationals, Michael Atherton foremost among them, have talked of how resting players devalues the cap, whatever the reason, but England's director of cricket, Andy Flower, will not be deflected from his task of winning as many important cricket matches as possible. If that means resting leading England players ahead of a five-match series against Australia, so far little discussed but bound to pick up momentum, and a Test series against South Africa then so be it. And better rested, it might be argued, than injured. That is even before you consider the benefits of discovering more about players on the fringe of the side.
England's policy of maintaining county cricket by the proceeds of a non-stop international summer cannot exist without tensions. The ailing domestic Twenty20 tournament, weakened by dismal weather and the late withdrawals of overseas players whose contracts are now barely worth the paper they are written on and the absence of England players, is suffocated by the very England programme that is meant to support it. What English cricket needs is reliance upon more players, not the same elite squad playing interminably to prop up the first-class structure.
As for West Indies, as their coach Ottis Gibson has remarked, losing sides do not have the luxury of resting players. Darren Bravo has already returned home because of injury and Chris Gayle and Andre Russell are carrying injuries. This is not a dead rubber for West Indies - it is a chance to impress upon their long-suffering supporters that they have been better than also-rans.
Players to watch
Another player with something very much to prove is Lendl Simmons. He had a terrible time at The Oval and his highest score since joining the tour is 23. Johnson Charles was preferred to him for the Australia series and the selectors may be looking back to Charles is Simmons doesn't produce something of note at Headingley.
Stats and Trivia
West Indies (probable) 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Dwayne Smith, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Darren Sammy, 8 Denesh Ramdin, 9 Tino Best, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Ravi Rampaul.
Pitch and conditions
"We don't have the luxury of resting players. You don't rest people when you are losing. England have got it right there - they are winning so they can afford to rest people. We're trying to avoid losing 3-0 so everybody will be available."
Ottis Gibson, West Indies' coach, on the realities of defeat.
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