But interim managing director urges England to recognise “there is life beyond them as well”
“They were both disappointed and you wouldn’t expect anything else from two of England’s greatest bowlers,” Strauss told the BBC. “I just think it’s important to look at the frame in which we’re looking at this tour.
“The truth is our Test team haven’t performed well for a while now and our batting in particular hasn’t been up to the level it needs to be. Secondly, if we want to be the best team in the world, we have to win away from home consistently. We haven’t done that – I think we’ve won four out of our last 13 series away from home, and that needs to improve. And this is the start of a new cycle, so it’s an opportunity to refresh and look forward.
“With that in mind we see this as an opportunity to bring some new blood into the bowling resources. [There’s] obviously some change in the batting line-up as well, but [we will] also ask our existing bowlers to play a slightly different role to the one they’ve played before and show a bit more leadership, so we have the opportunity to do that now.
“No-one is saying that Broad and Anderson won’t feature this summer and beyond but my job, I think, as director of cricket, is to give whoever takes over, the new director of cricket and coach, options from which to pick. I think this tour we can learn more about the options we do have.”
Strauss denied that Anderson and Broad – England’s all-time leading wicket-takers in Test cricket – created an “intimidating” environment in the dressing room, but stressed the importance of succession planning.
“I’d struggle to criticise Stuart Broad or James Anderson in any way,” he said. “They’ve been great servants to the game, they’ve been utterly professional, their performances have been outstanding and of course they’ve earned the right to have that stature.
“But as a team we have to also think there is life beyond them as well, and we need to develop some of the other bowlers and allow them to play more of a leadership role rather than a followership role and so we have the opportunity over these five weeks to do that. The new coach and director of cricket will look at selection over the summer and Broad and Anderson will be very much in the mix.”
Strauss added that it was “blatantly obvious” that England needed variety in their bowling attack in order to compete away from home, but said he had made it “as clear as I can” that he was not trying to end their careers.
“This is more about us finding a bowling resource that’s capable of winning away from home and obviously you need a lot of variety in your attack to do that; that’s blatantly obvious,” he told Sky Sports News.
“It is the start of a new cycle and it is a refresh and a reset and that dressing room will feel very different without Broad and Anderson in it over the course of the tour but I wouldn’t in any way want people to think that Broad and Anderson aren’t thoroughly professional in everything they do in an England shirt. That’s why they’ve been as successful as they have been in England colours and they’ve still got a lot to offer both on and off the field.
“They’re both very disappointed, and that doesn’t surprise me; they’re very passionate about playing for England. So I hope that they understand the rationale for the decision and I hope also they understand that no one is saying this is the end of the road for either of them.
“I suppose there’s a danger [they see it that way], but I was trying to be as clear as I can with them. And I suppose their job right at the moment is to get themselves fired up and ready to go for the start of the international summer in June.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98