The dismissal of Rory Burns from the first delivery of day three in St Lucia may have been a particularly unpleasant shock for England’s bowlers.
That’s because the three specialist seamers, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood, had been given a couple of hours off at the start of the day. With many players having their families with them at present, they were given the chance to get up a little later, take a more leisurely breakfast, and enjoy some time on the beach before reporting for duty.
While it is not an unusual policy – squad members not involved in the playing XI are routinely given days away from the ground on a rotational basis and the fast bowlers, in particular, are sometimes given a late start after a day’s bowling – it is, perhaps, a little surprising in the context of this tour.
England have not reached 300 in the series – this is their sixth and final innings – and have twice been bowled out in roughly the length of a session, losing all 10 wickets in 21.3 overs in Barbados, and 30.1 in Antigua.
However, with England’s team hotel little more than 10 minutes from the ground in St Lucia, and the players in close contact with the action, they can be recalled quickly as required. And having helped dismiss West Indies cheaply on day two, led by Wood’s maiden Test five-for, you might say they had earned a rest while their batting colleagues attempted to build on a 142-run overnight lead.
England are, after all, embarking on a year of great significance, with the World Cup and Ashes to come. With the series in the Caribbean already lost, some thoughtful man-management may bear fruit down the line.