Joe Root says England must learn from their rotation policy after slumping to a chastening 3-1 Test series defeat in India.
Jos Buttler was rested for the final three Tests – each of which England lost – as the ECB manages the workload of multi-format players during a year of 17 Test matches and a T20 World Cup.
Jonny Bairstow was rested for the first two Tests after impressing in the two-Test series win in Sri Lanka in January and made three ducks in four innings after returning to India for the last two games.
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Moeen Ali, meanwhile, played the second Test – his first in 18 months – before leaving for his scheduled period of rest after turning down England’s late request for him to stay.
Root says the rotation policy is vital in such a packed schedule but admits England – whose full-strength T20 side will now take on India in five games, starting on Friday – will look at ways the system can be improved.
The England captain – speaking after his side’s innings-and-25-run defeat in Ahmedabad – said: “I think it’s important to learn from this tour as a whole and try and make it better.
“It would be silly not to look at it and try and improve it for the next series, the next tour.
“It would be naïve of me to make a comment now when it deserves a lot of time and thought before any decisions are made on it.
“But the rotation policy is there to look after the players. We have said all along that making sure looking after players and their welfare and wellbeing is paramount.
“It is difficult, as a captain you want all of your players available all of the time, but in the current climate it is just not possible. We have to look at cricket this year as a whole package.
“There is so much cricket and it’s important that while bubbles are still around we continue to look after the players. We have to get away from running guys into the ground until they fall over.
“It’s easy to say we could have done things slightly differently but it’s all been done with the players’ best interest at heart and for the good of English cricket across the three formats.
“We might not get it right all the time to start with but we need to move forward and look at a better way – and hopefully we can find that quickly.
“It is very important that with the amount of cricket we are playing, and with a number of guys being multi-format, we look after everyone.
“Make sure we don’t get to a stage where guys are severely burnt out and we are losing out on some real talent and that they are losing out on the enjoyment of the game.”
England won the first Test in Chennai by 227 runs but then lost the next three heavily, only passing 200 once in their last six innings of the series.
Root added: “We have to remember the good things we have done on this trip.
“We have won three out of six games [including the wins in Sri Lanka] and even in the last couple of games there have been things that have been really positive.
“It has been disappointing and frustrating to finish on the note that we have but I am proud of the work ethic and willingness to learn and get better in these conditions. In many ways, that’s all you can ask for – to take the knowledge from these games and get better.
“As long as we do that, we will become a better team. The guys have to embrace what’s happened, understand it and be realistic, so that if they tour here again they are prepared for it and remember these experiences.
India vs England
March 12, 2021, 12:30pm
“We’d be stupid to come away and say ‘it was in India, it was the conditions, it was spinning and skidding on, it’s impossible to bat’. That would be the wrong attitude.
“But if you look back on the previous tour of India [England lost 4-0 in 2016] we have made strides in some areas by finding ways of taking wickets out here and in Sri Lanka.
“If you look at the bigger picture, there are things we are doing much better but there are still things we can improve on and that’s exciting in a way.
“You want guys to come in straight away and make an impact but it doesn’t always work like that.”
Watch the first T20 international between India and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 12.30pm on Friday.
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