It is a big risk to leave out fit and fiery Broad
Iwas very surprised Stuart Broad was omitted from the England side. I would not have left out a fantastic bowler who has 485 Test wickets, is healthy, reliable and has bowled well for his country over a long period.
For me, there is a question mark over all three of the quick bowlers they have picked as regards them breaking down. Jofra Archer, Jimmy Anderson and Mark Wood are all terrific bowlers, but they have all suffered from injury in recent times.
As much as we love Anderson, he will be 38 in three weeks and I cannot remember any quality fast bowler playing Test cricket at 38 and staying the pace. Age catches up with everyone in every sport, no matter how good you have been.
The last time Jimmy played in England was Aug 1 at Edgbaston in the first Ashes Test last summer. He broke down and that was a big factor in England losing. As a main seamer he was 25 per cent of the bowling attack.
Wood puts a huge strain on every part of his body as he delivers the ball. There is nothing fluid in his action, but as much as I admire his wholehearted effort, I always feel throwing his body into every delivery like he does is a recipe for an injury. He has had numerous problems and a lot of time out with various injuries.
Even new boy Archer has not been immune from injury, missing the last three Test matches in South Africa.
By playing Broad I would know I have got one guy who hardly ever breaks down.
The three bowlers they have picked may stay fit and, if they do, they will get wickets – they’re good bowlers. But when you have three bowlers with a history of injury you are increasing the risk of one of them breaking down.
It is like in football – if a player gets sent off and you are down to 10 men, the team struggles. Losing a major seam bowler is a much bigger factor than losing a batsman. Having bowlers that do not break down is priceless for a captain and a team.
Pace is an ace in any team and it is a long time since England could call on two, so it is tempting to want to play both and make the opposition jump around.
Nobody likes facing fast bowling. Some batsmen play it better than others, but they have to stay fit to bowl their overs and not break down.
That was the amazing thing about West Indies in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s – Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh all bowled quickly and accurately and yet they hardly ever broke down.
As the old Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough used to tell his players, if you’re injured and not on the park, you’re no good to yourself and you’re no good to the team. You have got to stay fit.
But I am glad that Ben Stokes won the toss and had the balls to bat first in what was overcast, awkward conditions for batsmen. I realise batting could be a bit tricky against the new ball, but I really believe England have a better chance of winning by batting first and putting a score on the board.