'Becoming a joke': England great fumes in pointed Ashes warning

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Pictured here, former England captain Michael Vaughan.
Michael Vaughan is concerned the Ashes series risks becoming a joke if player rotation is still a major talking point. Pic: Getty

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has stuck the boot into national selectors in a passionate warning before the Ashes series, beginning later this year.

The former Test batsman-turned commentator says the iconic series is in danger of "becoming a joke" if player rotation dominates the series.

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The rotation controversy came to a head during England's recent Test series defeat in India, with the visitors slammed for changing some of their best players.

James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood were all made unavailable at various points throughout the four-match series, with Moeen Ali allowed to return home to escape the biosecurity bubble.

Anderson's omission from the second Test was particularly baffling, considering his strong showing in England's opening win.

England coach Chris Silverwood has suggested the team could continue with the controversial rest-and-rotation policy they used in Sri Lanka and India, when the Ashes gets underway in Brisbane in November.

That revelation has prompted an angry outburst from several former England greats including Kevin Pietersen, who labelled the selection policy a "disgrace". 

“To come out and say that what they were doing – sending key players home mid-series – was right is a disgrace,” Pietersen wrote.

“What’s even more disgraceful, though, is (England coach) Silverwood looking nine months ahead to a huge Ashes series and saying that that they will look at rotating players during that as well.

“I am lucky to be here in India playing in a tournament alongside a number of legends of the game, and none of them can understand what on earth the England management are talking about.”

“The Ashes series is the biggest Test series that is played, and players who don’t represent either of the countries would love the chance to play in it. You’re really saying, nine months out, that you’d be happy to rotate during that series?"

England's former captain Vaughan has also weighed in to express his opposition to the idea, saying it risks ruining the integrity of the England-Australia rivalry.

'Selectors have to pick best XI'

Vaughan says England selectors simply have to pick the best possible XI when it comes to the Ashes series.

"If they (players) need rest, you get it before the Ashes," Vaughan said on his BBC radio programme.

"Test match cricket is becoming a joke if that (players being rotated) happens. You make sure you get your best players available for every single Ashes Test match."

Vaughan is also concerned by the possibility that players, including Buttler and Stokes, could miss the first Test against New Zealand at Lord's on June 2, depending on how long their franchises are involved in the T20 Indian Premier League.

"This is where it gets frustrating for England supporters, and many in the game, that these players will go and play in the full IPL," he said.

Pietersen argued that the Ashes should be regarded as a "landmark series" for England's players and that other contests offer a more suitable opportunity for rotation.

Seen here, Test great Kevin Pietersen at an England cricket training session.
Test great Kevin Pietersen is not a fan of England Cricket's rotation policy. Pic: Getty

England captain Joe Root defended the controversial policy, however, claiming the challenges around Covid-19 made it a necessary measure.

“The amount of cricket that we have got and trying to factor all of that together it is tough, but that’s where we’re at, and that’s where we find ourselves, and we have to make sure that we get the best out of our players,” Root said.

“We made that decision [to rest payers] looking at a number of things. When you lose, the selection is one of the easy things to blame.

“Looking at the side we did select, the players that were out there certainly had the talent to produce a very fine performance.”

with agencies

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