Former captain Michael Vaughan says “Test cricket is dead” if England rest and rotate players in the Ashes.
Under England’s rotation policy, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood missed parts of the winter series in Sri Lanka and India.
“If they need rest, you get it before the Ashes,” said Vaughan.
“Test match cricket is becoming a joke if that happens.”
Speaking on The Tuffers and Vaughan Cricket Show, Vaughan added: “You make sure you get your best players available for every single Ashes Test match.”
England have opted to rest players in order to manage their workload, with 16 or 17 Tests and a Twenty20 World Cup being played in 2021.
“If you said to me that Jos Buttler is struggling and may only be able to play one of those, the T20 World Cup or the Ashes, I’d hate to think the Ashes comes second,” Vaughan said.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler returned home after England won the first Test against India in Chennai, missing the remaining matches in the 3-1 series loss.
All-rounder Moeen Ali played in just the second Test against India, having missed the Sri Lanka series and first Test after contracting coronavirus, before flying back to England.
“England have got a magnificent squad of white-ball players but they don’t have a magnificent squad of Test match players, that’s a fact,” Vaughan said.
“They don’t have a good enough batting unit to swap and change, manoeuvre the order.”
Several England players – including Stokes, Buttler, Archer, Moeen, Curran and Bairstow – are also set to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) which starts on 9 April, with the final scheduled for 30 May.
Silverwood confirmed players could miss England’s first Test in a two-match series against New Zealand this summer, which begins at Lord’s on 2 June, if they are still involved in the IPL.
“This is where it gets frustrating for England supporters, and many in the game, that these players will go and play in the full IPL,” Vaughan said.
England also play a five-match home Test series against India this summer, as well as limited-overs series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
“For seven Test matches in the summer, I just beg them to pick the best team they can,” Vaughan added.