England clean house! AXE 2 greatest ever bowlers for West Indies tour

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England have dropped James Anderson and Stuart Broad, the country’s two all-time leading Test wicket-takers, for their tour of the West Indies as part of a major shake-up of the troubled team.

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Anderson, who has 640 Test wickets, and fellow pace bowler Broad, who has 537 scalps, are among eight players axed from the group that featured in England’s shambolic Ashes series loss in Australia.

England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler has also been left out, while there are first call-ups for Durham opener Alex Lees and Yorkshire seamer Matthew Fisher.

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Dawid Malan, Sam Billings, Dom Bess, Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed are the other players dropped following England’s 4-0 defeat in Australia.

Lancashire pair Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson join the overhauled 16-man squad for the three-Test series.

Surrey wicketkeeper Ben Foakes returns to the squad for the first time since playing in the fourth Test against India in March 2021.

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Andrew Strauss, interim managing director of England men’s cricket, interim head coach Paul Collingwood and head scout James Taylor wielded the axe following one of England’s most embarrassing Test tours in recent memory.

Head coach Chris Silverwood, assistant Graham Thorpe and director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles had already been removed from their roles as a result of the on and off-field turmoil in Australia.

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“With the start of a new cycle, it has allowed the selection panel to refresh the Test squad with a particular focus on competing away from home,” Strauss said on Tuesday of the ruthless cull.

“We felt that it was time to draw a line after the Ashes defeat, look forward and give some impetus with an influx of new players,” the former England captain added.

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Anderson, 39, and Broad, 35, played reduced roles against Australia, featuring in three games each out of five, but were also responsible for some of England’s better moments.

Anderson topped England’s bowling averages with his eight wickets costing just 23.37 apiece, while Broad took the tourists’ first five-for of the trip in Sydney.

Strauss insisted Anderson and Broad could still have a part to play for England in the future despite their unexpected exiles.

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“In respect of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, I want to emphasise this does not mean the end for them as England players,” he said.

“We feel that it is important to look at some exciting new bowling potential and give some added responsibility to other players who have featured previously. 

“No one doubts the quality and experience that James and Stuart bring to the England set-up. 

“It will be up to the new managing director and permanent head coach to decide on whether they will be involved this summer and beyond.”

It was England’s dismal displays with the bat that played the key role in their capitulation in Australia, extending the poor Test form they had shown for much of 2021.

England will hope Lees can help steady the ship after he captained the Lions squad in Australia and showed his potential in the County Championship.

The 28-year–old scored 625 runs in last year’s Championship campaign, with a highest score of 129.

It is a tall order to replace Anderson and Broad, leaving Fisher, a 24-year-old who took 20 County Championship wickets for Yorkshire last season firmly in the spotlight as part of the new generation.

“This selection of this squad is the start of a process and a journey to get England Test cricket back to where it needs to be, and the hard work starts now,” Strauss said.

England’s first Test against the West Indies in Antigua starts on 8 March.

England squad for West Indies tour:

Joe Root (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Zak Crawley, Matthew Fisher, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Alex Lees, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Matt Parkinson, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

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