22-2-74-1 were the figures of England fast bowler Mark Wood after the West Indies took a healthy lead in the first innings to strengthen their stranglehold on the third day of the Southampton Test.
Wood and Jofra Archer are touted to be the future of English fast bowling as veterans James Anderson and Stuart Broad are in the twilight zone of their career at their sights on retiring after the Ashes next year.
Even if the future is to be considered, dropping the second most successful Test bowler for England for the first Test should have not been the case. Broad stands only 15 scalps away from his 500th in Test cricket. He has, arguably, been more dependent for the English side than his fellow new ball bowler Anderson, who has often missed out due to injuries.
Broad might not have the pace of Wood but he has the experience and ability to deceive the batsmen with his variations, most suitable at home conditions. It is for first time since 2012, Broad has missed out on a Test match at home and the decision is worth every criticism, courtesy of the poor performance from the English bowling unit. Incidentally, the last time when Broad missed out on a home Test also came against the West Indies. But the reason was a satisfactory one as England had already sealed the series and had decided their premier paceman to be rested.
Even though the English management is thinking about Jofra Archer and Wood as the possible options to replace the veterans, it cannot come at the cost of losing a Test match at home. To make things worse if Wood picked up the wicket of a tailender, Archer did not find any, with both bowling 22 overs each.
Anderson, the lead bowler, picked up a three-wicket haul and if Broad would have been in the picture, he would have further helped the he team in the cause. But the first impression of decision making from the stand-in captain Ben Stokes does not looks up to the mark. In a crisis situation, one would give Stokes the benefit of doubt for his call, as Bohemian novelist Franz Kafka said that 'first impressions are always unreliable'.
At the moment Anderson, Broad and Archer are the top three fast bowlers England have. But for Wood, known for his extra pace, his past experience of playing under the captaincy of Stokes at Durham might have worked in favour of him.
On the contrary, England great Darren Gough, who was upset with the Broad snub might be further infuriated with the way England bowling performance panned out in the first innings.
Anyway, there is always a second chance, for the under scrutiny England it will be the second innings.