We have to go with what is right for the team

The upcoming Test series against West Indies will mark a new beginning for the England Test. Two years after Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum took charge of the team as captain and coach respectively, the team is set to undergo a few more changes.

With an eye on the next year’s Ashes, England have started building the team for the challenging tour as they look to win the series on Australian soil for the first time since the 2010/11 season. One of the big calls is to drop James Anderson.

While the English team management has technically not dropped the veteran pacer but McCullum, Ben Stokes as well as Rob Key, the managing director of the England men’s teams, talked to the pacer in April and told him that it’s time to move on. Anderson did not take long to announce his Test retirement and will bring down curtains on his illustrious Test career after the first Test of the three-match series against West Indies.

England have also dropped Ben Foakes and Jonny Bairstow from the squad and have included uncapped Jamie Smith in the team as the wicketkeeper. The likes of Jack Leach and Ollie Robinson have also failed to make the cut for the series with England giving chances to the likes of Gus Atkinson and Shoaib Bashir.

I hope he takes all 20 wickets: Ben Stokes

While a number of players have lost their places in the England Test squad, the focus will definitely be on James Anderson. England’s most prolific fast-bowler of all time will be bidding adieu to international cricket. 

Speaking about Anderson, Ben Stokes stated that while he hopes his teammate bows out of the game on a high, the team had to make a big call ahead of the next Ashes. The England captain said that Anderson still has the skill set to excel at the international level, but the team had to make the big decision.

“I hope he takes all 20 wickets if I’m being honest,” Ben Stokes was quoted as saying by The Telegraph. “I listened to Stuart talk about his retirement and wanting to go out on top and there was one thing he said that even made me think about when the time comes for me to go. He said: ‘I didn’t want a new player to come in and go “I thought Stuart Broad was meant to be good.” I thought: ‘Yeah that is a good thing to think about.’

“Jimmy’s skillset is obviously still good enough for international cricket. But we have to make big decisions and we have got the Ashes to think about in 18 months’ time. Nobody will ever say, ‘Oh is that Jimmy Anderson? I thought he was meant to be good’ because he is still incredible,” he added.

Speaking further, Stokes stated that he backed the decision only for the team’s cause and was not bothered by the reaction from others. He also made it clear that he has his eyes set firmly on the Ashes as England look to reclaim the urn.

“A decision maker can’t make a decision based on what other people might think about it. I base my decisions on what I think is best for the team here and now but with this one there was Australia in mind.

“It is a tough place to be when you make these decisions because they are big calls but we have to go with what we think is right for the team going forward. We have got to be big enough and brave enough to make those decisions,” said Ben Stokes.

“If you look at how much time there has been from our last series up until this one, there has been a lot of time to think where we want to take the team to the next level. In sport if you’re not thinking about progression then you end up standing still and one thing I don’t want to see as captain of this team is us standing still,” he added.

Meanwhile, the first Test between England and West Indies is scheduled to be played from July 10 at Lord’s. Anderson has been named in the England playing XI for the game.

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