Big decisions face England regime

  • Last Updated: February 5 2014, 18:16 GMT

England's selectors barely have time to draw breath and concentrate their minds before they must make the first important decisions of the post-Kevin Pietersen era.

Broad: Skipper of the one-day side
Broad: Skipper of the one-day side

When England announce their limited-overs squad on Thursday to tour the West Indies and then bid for the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, it will be less than two days since they called time on the controversial career of their record all-format runscorer.

By way of explanation for the decision to part company with Pietersen, new England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Paul Downton cited the right time "to look to the future and start to rebuild not only the team but also team ethic and philosophy".

England may believe then that they have eliminated a random factor which was no longer worth the hassle.

They will be well aware too, though, that their immediate chances of success - most importantly in Bangladesh, but in the Caribbean too as they try to soothe memories of a 7-1 limited-overs scoreline in Australia - are instantly diminished without Pietersen.

The best they can do then, in the circumstances, is to pick 15 names - or perhaps initially 16, according to some reports - who can collectively make up for his absence, and that of rested 50-over captain Alastair Cook, to try to get Ashley Giles' tenure as coach back on track.

It will be no easy task.

The starting point must be to acknowledge that Pietersen, in the short term at least, is irreplaceable.

It will do Ben Stokes, for example, no favours if he is encumbered with an unfair level of expectation as the batsman who must now turn short-format matches England's way as and when required.

Instead, in picking a squad which will be centred on the primary task of a plausible challenge for only England's second global trophy rather than the immediate one of three one-day internationals in Antigua, responsibility - and therefore opportunity - will be spread.

With no Pietersen inked in at the top of the order or number three, Stokes will be one of several young batsmen given a chance to make a name for himself.

Joe Root ought not to be among them, after his struggles in Australia where it became increasingly evident that he does not yet have the power game which is a necessity in the shortest format.

All the intricate and ingenious deflections in the world - and Root has resourcefully added most to his repertoire - do not make up for an absence of the big shot in Twenty20.

Root appears no more able on that score at this stage than Jonathan Trott once was - and certainly not so much as Ian Bell, whose last Twenty20 was more than three years ago.

England will be mindful that Root's second-string off-spin could be handy in Bangladesh, even in the Caribbean before then when pitches can be expected to provide appropriate match preparation.

But there are other options on both counts, not least a left-field recall for Samit Patel - whose hitting, and left-arm spin, served England as well as anyone in his two appearances in the last World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

Not currently contracted, there could yet be a way back for the talented Nottinghamshire all-rounder under a new regime - albeit with former team director Andy Flower still in situ temporarily as a selector.

It is not just the spin contingent England will be anxious to get right for the arid surfaces of Chittagong and possibly Mirpur.

The pace personnel must be spot on too.

After the trouncings in Australia, and Giles' hints that several places are no longer safe, Jade Dernbach appears especially vulnerable.

The likelihood is nonetheless that, with another sub-continental challenge ahead, he will be given one more chance to demonstrate he is master of and not slave to his own pace variations.

Possible England squad (v West Indies, and for ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh): SCJ Broad (Captain), AD Hales, LJ Wright, EJG Morgan, JC Buttler (wkt), RS Bopara, BA Stokes, CJ Jordan, TT Bresnan, JC Tredwell, DR Briggs, GS Ballance, SR Patel, MJ Lumb, JW Dernbach.

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