England will pick their best line-up possible for next week’s First Test against the West Indies despite a hectic schedule of six matches in the next seven weeks.
The First Test at Southampton’s Rose Bowl of the three-match series commences on Wednesday July 8 between England and the West Indies, with the English to also take on Pakistan in three Tests in August too.
It’s a hectic period for the English cricketers with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) desperate to make up for lost time with matches in a flurry after the coronavirus outbreak which has impacted the financial side of the game heavily.
England fast bowler Stuart Broad spoke to the media over the weekend with preparations ramping up ahead of the First Test and, while he accepted rotation was likely, he believed they’d go in full strength for the opening match.
“We’ve been told as a bowling group that the strongest team will be picked for the first Test,” 34-year-old Broad said.
“The aim is to get into that.”
Broad will be contending with James Anderson, Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, Olly Stone, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood for a spot in the attack, with England likely to utilise three or four quicks and a spinner.
“The last Test I missed in England was against West Indies in 2012, when I was named in the starting XI (before the toss) but it rained for the first two days and Andy Flower decided that a three-day Test match was one to take a rest from, over which we had an argument at the time,” Broad said.
“I don’t like missing cricket. I feel fit at the moment - my fitness tests have been as strong as ever in this come-back-to-cricket period - but we all know how hard fast bowling is.
“We want to play our best team as often as possible, but we’re not going to put bodies at major risk.”
Broad also acknowledged that playing matches behind closed doors would create a unique experience and require some mental preparation, even if it reminded him of County Championship cricket often played in front of small crowds.
“Our domestic game in red ball cricket, a lot of the time we play in front of smaller crowds, so we are not relying on the atmosphere or the crowds to drive us forward,” Broad said.
“International cricket certainly will be more of a mental test to make sure each player is right up for the battle.
“I’m very aware of that, I’ve already spoken to our sport psychologist about creating a mindset around making sure I can get my emotions up to where they need to be for me to perform at my best.
“I have got to make sure my emotions are where they need to be for an international Test match and that is something I started working on in early June.”