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News

Stuart Broad: England face 'scary' lack of experience in James Anderson's absence

Retirement of legendary pairing in consecutive home Tests will leave huge gulf in bowling ranks

Stuart Broad celebrates with James Anderson, England vs Australia, 5th men's Ashes Test, The Oval, 5th day, July 31, 2023

Stuart Broad and James Anderson had been a fixture in England's Test team since 2008  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Stuart Broad has warned that England's onus on blooding a new generation of fast bowlers in the wake of James Anderson's retirement could leave Ben Stokes with a "quite scary" lack of experience for the forthcoming Test series against West Indies and Sri Lanka.
Anderson is set to play against West Indies at Lord's on July 10 before calling time on his legendary 188-match, 21-year Test career, and with Broad himself having stood down from England duty against Australia at The Oval last summer, it means that the Test team will have lost more than 1,300 wickets and 354 matches-worth of experience in consecutive home games.
And while Broad, speaking on Sky Sports' Cricket Podcast, acknowledged there was a pressing need for a new generation of bowlers to bed into their roles in good time for the next Ashes tour in 2025-26, the team risks being "exposed" in the short term, not least by a West Indies team that recently beat Australia at the Gabba and who, in the words of their attack leader Kemar Roach, are itching to "ruin" Anderson's farewell.
"You could easily go into a Test match this summer with a very, very inexperienced bowling group couldn't you?" Broad told Sky Sports. "There's going to certainly be a huge hole left by Jimmy Anderson that someone is going to have to step into. And not just by swinging the new ball. But by communicating, by keeping calm if the boundaries are leaking, by tactically being aware of what field works at certain grounds, and on certain pitches and certain times of Test matches.
"Ultimately, you don't learn that unless you're thrown in. But it's not just about throwing caps away and saying 'have a go', you need to pick a bowling unit that can win on that particular pitch."
The logic of Anderson's enforced retirement could equally be applied to Chris Woakes, another outstanding performer in English conditions, and the current holder of the Compton-Miller Medal after his series-turning performances in last summer's Ashes. However, at the age of 35, he is another player with no realistic chance of featuring in Australia, especially given his recognised shortcomings in overseas conditions - in which his average (51.88 in 20 Tests) is exactly 30 points higher than on home soil (21.88 in 28).
"Woakes' last Test match, he finished Man of the Series," Broad said. "But was very aware that he wouldn't be going [on the Test tour to] India, even while playing that series. There's not many better bowlers than him in English conditions, but if the mindset is, 'we're focusing on who can bowl with the Kookaburra in two winters' time', does Woakesy fall into that category as well?"
"If you don't play Woakes and Mark Wood is having a rest… you could have three seamers and a spinner potentially out there with 20 caps between them. And that's quite scary, as a Test captain, I'd have thought.
"That could leave you a bit exposed. But there's only one way to find out with bowlers, and that's to give them a go, encourage them to communicate out there, encourage them to solve their problems live in a Test match. I think exposure for some bowlers now is really important because there's talent out there."
The candidates for selection this summer include the Durham seamer, Matthew Potts, who impressed in the 2022 summer before slipping down the pecking order, as well as the Surrey pairing of Gus Atkinson and Jamie Overton, whose recent injury is preventing him from staking a claim for the T20 World Cup squad. Brydon Carse and Josh Tongue have also had intermittent opportunities in recent seasons, while Essex's Sam Cook continues to make a strong case with his prolific form in the County Championship.
None of them, however, can come close to filling the experience void left by Anderson's retirement.
"With the style of play that they've been operating with, and the quality of player that England have got, there's no doubt that England's goal will be to win all six Test matches this summer," Broad added. "And if you set that goal, then you need to pick a bowling attack that you think can take 20 wickets as well."
First things first, however, England's focus will be to win that Lord's Test, and give Anderson the send-off that his service deserves.
"Jimmy won't see it like that. He'll just want to take wickets and win the game at Lord's," Broad said. "But us cricket fans and friends of his will be able to see it as a bit of a celebration and have a great time. It's very difficult when you do hang up the boots, it's a very difficult decision to make, but he can't achieve anymore. There's nothing in the game that he's not done.
"He's been the ultimate bowler and the best we've ever produced. So he won't leave the game with any anguish of probably wanting to play anymore. I think deep down, he knows that he agrees with the decision."

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