Is England’s Bio-Bubble Rotation Policy Now The Way Forward?

Is the rotation policy used by England what will become the new normal in the world of cricket?

3 min read

England have been the path-makers in the world of post-lockdown cricket. They were among the first teams to start training after the lockdown and the ECB was the first board to host an international series after all tours were suspended in March.

Six months after their home series against West Indies in July, the team has featured in as many as 23 international matches with most of their big name players also having to spend two months in IPL’s bio-bubble last year.

And while India is only just getting ready to host their first international series, members of the English contingent currently in quarantine in Chennai already have learnings to share after their head-start.

  1. Players on cricket tours of bio-bubbles need a break.
  2. IPL is to be accepted and plans need to be worked around it.

Thus their new rotation policy saw Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer rested for the two-Test series in Sri Lanka and while they join in team in India, the trio of Jonny Bairstow, all-rounder Sam Curran and fast bowler Mark Wood have been sent back to England till the end of the second Test. Wicket-keeper Jos Buttler will also return home after the first Test.

The selection choices have been severely criticised by former England captains with Kevin Pietersen saying they were being disrespectful to the fans and Indian cricket by not playing their best players.

"Big debate on whether England have picked their best team to play India in the 1st Test. Winning in India is as good a feeling as winning in Australia. It's disrespectful to England fans & also BCCI to not play your best team. Bairstow has to play! Broad/Anderson have to play!" Pietersen said in a tweet.

Michael Vaughan too questioned the decision to send Bairstow back to England after the number 3 batter had been England’s second-highest run-scorer in Sri Lanka.

"The only player in England's Top 3 that's playing the sub continent conditions with any control or calmness is resting for the first 2 Tests against the best Team in world at home !!! The world is officially mad," he tweeted.

England head coach Chris Silverwood however has said he is happy with the system they have in place, when asked about whether he stood by their selection choices.

“I’m perfectly happy with the system we’re using at the moment. I stand by it. We’ve got to look after our people. We’re spending a lot of time locked in hotel rooms inside bio-secure bubbles and it’s not easy.”
Chris Silverwood, England Head Coach

"It's good that we're being proactive and looking after people... They can't be with me all the time, that's not the world we live in. I'd just ask them (England fans) to understand why we do what we do," said Silverwood.

Where England was proactive, India put their entire Australian tour squad on a plane straight after the IPL in the UAE and had them spend almost three months together. Between the limited-overs matches and the Test series, India had over 10 players ruled out of matches due to injuries.

A fate England players have been able to avoid, due to the rotation policy of the board.

"We're resting in the best interests of the player and equally to get the best out of them long term... I do believe we have to be proactive in looking after them, rather than wait until there's a problem," said Silverwood.

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