South Africa v England Tests - Men's
Veteran pace pair not safe as England ponder changes
Skipper Joe Root flags the prospect of 'difficult decisions' at the selection table ahead of the second Test against South Africa
AFP & Cricket Network
30 December 2019, 08:04 PM AEST
England may consider dropping one of Jimmy Anderson or Stuart Broad for the second Test against South Africa as the tourists assess their options following the 107-run loss in Centurion.
Joe Root's side were without a specialist spinner for the opening Test of the series but conditions in Cape Town could lead to a change of tactics, which would leave one of their four specialist quicks from Centurion in danger of the axe.
With Jack Leach in doubt due to illness, off-spinner Dom Bess and uncapped leggie Matt Parkinson will come into the side if the pitch at Newlands calls for a major spin option.
And Root says even the legendary duo of Anderson and Broad aren't guaranteed their spots.
"If difficult decisions have to be made down the line then they will be," he said.
"It's a fine balance. You've got to look at the surface and at an attack you feel is best going to counter that and best counter the opposition.
"I think the ideal scenario is to have people pushing them (Anderson and Broad) all the time, so that they're constantly trying to improve themselves.
"They’ve got fantastic records behind them and they've produced fantastic things for England in the very recent past.
"You don't want to wish those guys away or look back and think 'we've forced Jimmy Anderson out'.
"You look at him physically and he's in fantastic fettle and he's got a brilliant record in these conditions. Similar with Stuart."
Anderson finished with match figures of 2-116 in Centurion in what was his first Test since missing the bulk of the Ashes due to a calf injury.
Broad (who took 5-100 in the first Test) has been overlooked for three Tests in the past 18 months, two in Sri Lanka late last year and then again in the West Indies in early 2019.
But axing a seam bowler with 476 Test wickets to his name in traditionally pace-friendly South African conditions would be a major shake-up of the England side.
Left-armer Sam Curran (5-109 in Centurion) and paceman Jofra Archer (6-167) completed England's four-man pace attack in the first Test alongside seam-bowling allrounder Ben Stokes (2-22).
Meanwhile, Root has refused to blame the virus that swept through the England camp for their first Test defeat and says a healthier touring team would be better placed at Newlands.
Eleven England players and four support staff have been laid up at one time or another over the past 15 days since the side arrived in South Africa as a mystery bug hit the squad.
Several were quarantined, including Ollie Pope, who missed out on playing, while Archer and Broad battled to be fit in time for the opening Test.
In addition, Stokes' father suffered a stroke soon after arriving in Johannesburg to watch his son play but is now out of intensive care.
"We are not going to hide behind that as an excuse, but a lot of our squad have been taken ill over the last two weeks," Root said.
"We've had to deal with a lot; Ben (Stokes) in particular with that horrible thing with his father.
"So there has been a lot thrown at the squad over the last weeks and I think everyone has tried to deal with it as best they can.
"There are certain things you try to control but some that you can't. We've done very well that it did not affect as many it could.
"It was frustrating, but it has happened now and hopefully the illness has now passed the camp and we can all be fighting fit and ready to go for Cape Town and bounce back very quickly from this match."
South Africa v England 2019-20
First Test: South Africa won by 107 runs
Second Test: January 3-7, Cape Town
Third Test: January 16-20, Port Elizabeth
Fourth Test: January 24-28, Johannesburg
First ODI: February 4, Cape Town (D/N)
Second ODI: February 7, Durban (D/N)
Third ODI: February 9, Johannesburg
First T20: February 12, East London
Second T20: February 14, Durban
Third T20: February 16, Centurion