England v West Indies, 3rd ODI, Headingley June 21, 2012

Yorkshire fans take umbrage at rotation policy


If the views on the White Rose Forum are any guide, forgiveness will not come easily at Headingley for England's rotation policy when they face the West Indies in the final one-day international. The debate on Yorkshire's official forum touched well-worn themes. Younger Person: "I'll forgive anything if we're winning". Older person: "We used to win in my day and we kept fit by bowling."

From England's point of view, at least the players who are attracting most of the flak are, by the nature of the debate, the ones who will be absent and so unable to hear the protests. Stuart Broad, in some eyes, has sinned not only by being rested, but also by going onto Twitter and saying that he understood the decision because he wanted a long career. That could be regarded as loyalty, but the most trenchant view being aired in Yorkshire is that Them That Are Resting should keep their mouths shut.

Some people will be grateful just to see a game of any sorts. It hosed down again in Leeds on Thursday. Yorkshire's Australian coach Jason Gillespie has barely seen the sunshine since he arrived. "Got caught in the rain near home! What is with this weather," he tweeted as Headingley's groundstaff prepared for a troubled night.

Yorkshire, who are under financial strain, kept alive because of the largesse of their chairman Colin Graves, will have been relieved that barely 1,000 tickets remained when England opted for experimentation. England are hardly making wholesale changes, but umbrage will have been taken for all that.

Graves, who is not the sort to leave stones unturned, has contacted Geoff Miller, England's chief selector, to discuss the policy. "I can understand their decision from a cricketing point of view," he said. "I am not having a go at them or criticising but from the host county's point of view it's a disappointment."

Resting Tim Bresnan, alongside the Nottinghamshire pair of Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad, could also see England face West Indies without a Yorkshire player in the side; it is hard to see how Jonny Bairstow can break into the XI when Ravi Bopara and Samit Patel seem to be essential picks to share the fifth bowler's duties.

Bresnan has played only twice for Yorkshire at Headingley in each of the last two seasons. More than any other player, he epitomises Yorkshire's pride in their ability to produce decent cricketers, but supporters long resigned to the fact that they cannot see him at county level now find they cannot see him for England either.

England's director of cricket, Andy Flower, has argued that the limited changes do not emphasise that this match is a dead rubber, rather than proactively bring it alive again, not only by resting bowlers faced by a punishing schedule, so ensuring maximum benefit, but by discovering more about those on the fringes of the side, grasping an opportunity to road-test the squad and plan for the future.

Steve Finn was the latest England player to be delivered up to the media to offer support for resting players in the sort of sensitive, understated fashion that will ensure no demonstrations outside the Hutton Gates before the game, apart, that is, from those who cannot get into the car parks.

Ian Bell fulfilled the same role 24 hours earlier. England's new-ball attack when it comes to defending the rotation policy has comprised the two players who can be most relied upon to say nothing controversial at all so draining the debate of interest.

Finn, a regular in the one-day side these days, sought this positive slant, suggesting that he would benefit from having more responsibility thrust upon him. "I've opened the bowling for a little while in the one-day team. I'm enjoying the responsibility. Having those senior players missing gives me an opportunity to be an even more senior player within the group. It's an exciting experience - any experience I get of being a senior player is great.

"It puts that added bit of responsibility upon me. Pressure comes with that but pressure is something I enjoy. I feel like I'm getting better at dealing with that and other pressures on the pitch and as you get more experienced at international cricket and are exposed to more experiences you become better."

There is also the little matter of a five-match one-day series against Australia, a series in which England, who have won their last six ODIs, can test themselves against the side ranked No. 1 in the world in one-day cricket. "That series is going to be a great gauge of where we are moving forward," said Finn, his hurried coda that right now he was only concentrating on the series against West Indies not entirely convincing.

Ottis Gibson, West Indies' coach, was a former England bowling coach and he shares Flower's philosophy. "Not really," he replied when asked if he was insulted.

"The English system has been a well-oiled machine for some time now," he said. "It's the envy of the world, let's be honest. They are the top team in the world and they have the luxury of being able to rest players and it's a credit to them and all the people that work behind the scenes.

"They are the No. 1 team in Test cricket, they have an abundance of talent and good players and they can rest a few players and bring a few in and for them it's all good. For us it's just trying game after game to get the right balance and try and win a game. We lost 2-0 in the Test series and we certainly don't want to lose 3-0 in the one-day series.

"The tour has not gone too well, but we're playing cricket in England against a very good English side. Yes, on paper we've got the makings of a great one-day side but England have just been that little step ahead of us all the time. We've just been a little off the pace."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on June 23, 2012, 18:24 GMT

    @RakeshGPradhan on (June 22 2012, 23:08 PM GMT) Mullally came along for Eng after Iggs and Mccague had played their last tests. I actually though Mullally was ok although looking back at some of the stats from the early 90s we did have some pretty dire bowling attacks so I get where you're coming from re replacing quality with quality

  • John on June 23, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    Athers and Hussain had this debate using the EPL in football as an analogy. I usually agree with Athers on most things but he was saying that Man U only rest Rooney for the league cup games and Eng would never rest him. This to me is untrue as I'm sure there would be very few outfield players from any top club who will have played every single game and the big clubs are always withdrawing players from national sides who have a mysterious niggle , only to be playing the following weekend for their club side.Personally , I'd rather have my top players firing on all cylinders each time they play and if that means resting them for the less meaningful games then so be it , surely we'd all rather see our best players performing well in the biggest games rather than playing every single game and then suffering injury or burnout in the SA series for example.

  • Rakesh on June 22, 2012, 23:08 GMT

    Rotation only works when you rotate quality with quality..Anderson, broad, Bresnan & swann are quite apart from Mullally, Salisbury , igglesden and McCague... who were the England attack not that long ago lest we forget we have been spoiled the last few years..

    @bonobo I would be be very aggrieved if i came in for anderson and took a ten for .. only be be rotated out the next game or if i came in for Cook and got a big hundred and was rotated the next game.... wouldnt you ????

  • david on June 22, 2012, 12:36 GMT

    david im not sure your headline on the opening page ( england clouded by rotation policy ) is true. the man that matters does not have any problem namely the coach.the guys who have the problems is the media. in any other sport, doing similar is the norm. if i was going to leeds then i might be disappointed if a particular player i liked was not playing, but in the big picture of things its the correct decision. sides that have a large squad of quality players Eng, SA, and india its the way to go. im surprised the indian writers have not mentioned that tendulkar and sewhag to my knowledge have been rested on numerous times and these guys are treated like gods and their supporters demand that they should play. its the way to go these days of so many internationals.

  • Dummy4 on June 22, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    @ Triple Centurian. Thank-you for your response!

  • Jem on June 22, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding - agree totally. Perhaps the one thing I would say to balance the argument is that the selectors should give more thought to making sure players are NOT rested when playing at their home ground. Whilst we all come to support our team, there is no doubt that Yorkshire fans want to see their Yorkshire stars play - and Bresnan is certainly that now. I would have been equally gutted to go to Old Trafford only to find the management had "rested" Jimmy Anderson, as has happened in the past! I think the players themselves, even those who agree with a rotation policy, would also be desperate to play on their home grounds. This seems like a reasonable compromise...

  • Neil on June 22, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    what is this problem with resting players. I dont remember any era of english cricket/or most international cricket...when at the end of the series if the result is guaranteed, teams try new players and give others a rest...England as far as I see dont operate a rotation policy, they pick the strongest teams for competitive matches....and this has been the most consistent period of selection i have ever seen by an England team. certainly in the 80s and 90s the last test of the series would see just as many changes....it seems by accounts it was common throughout the 50s and 60s as well....I do think it is a problem, not playing someone like Bresnan in front of his home crowd....but that is a different issue....the fuss over Anderson was crazy, fewer fats bowlers in the history of england cricket could have played such an amount of tests in such a period...and they rest him for one game in X many years in a dead rubber ?

  • Rakesh on June 22, 2012, 10:19 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding If you are in fear of getting injured then you shouldnt play at all. India tried rotation for the windies tour before they came here last summer and was a disaster... The dominant windies and Aussies always played the best team available. There are no unknowns anymore in the England setup. Someone like Chris Woakes has been known about since he was a teenager. He has been through the system Performance squads, A tours, emerging players , Lions etc so he should not be fazed by being an international player. Very few players are plucked straight from county circuit into international game. The rotation model is replicated across other nations would mean that dead games would be of the level of the carling cup - everyone resting . Stats show that when stars dont play in the carling cup - attendences do drop... If you want value from dead games then use them as tactical experiments - but play the best players .. How many more tickets got sold because of Chris Gayle

  • Mark on June 22, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    As the "Older Person" on theWRF that Mr Hopps refers to in his article, I should point out that I don't have any issue with a rotation policy in the England team and fully understand why it is in operation. However, in this instance its not a "rotation policy" thats being applied at all. Its resting three key players at once in a dead rubber. If it was a rotation policy then why did it ot apply in the 2nd ODI ealier in the week at the Oval or the 2nd test v the West Indies? My issue is with the omisson of 3 first choice players at the same time. Mind you, I would be quite happy not to have to watch Broad play and willingly see any other seamer play in his absence. Perhaps he could always be "rested" or "rotated out" when England play at Headingley so he can e sure to be fit for games at Lords and The Oval where his personality and public utteings on twitter or at press conferences may be better received.

  • Jason on June 22, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    @RakeshGPradhan, I agree its not cheap to buy tickets, so what happens when a player get injured playing in a dead game, and is then ruled out for the rest of the summer, the same crowd that criticise rotation would be up in arms that there were no experience replacements available. I have never bought in to the people going to see individuals, they go to support the team, people dont stay away from Man Utd games becuase Rooney isnt playing. You also need to remember that todays unknowns are tomorrows heros, how else will these players get experience at international level unless they play competative games against full international sides.

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