Anderson Frustrated to Miss Out
James Anderson will be cast into the role of frustrated onlooker for this week's third Investec Test against West Indies after England's selectors opted to rest him for the dead rubber at Edgbaston.
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Anderson's exclusion had been expected after England had hinted at a desire to rotate their seamers amid a busy summer schedule.
With England's number one Test status on the line in the three-Test series South Africa from next month, and limited-overs series against West Indies and Australia to come before then, Anderson has been put in cotton wool.
It is a scenario the 29-year-old right-armer admitted he would not be happy with before an otherwise unchanged 12-man squad was announced this morning.
Anderson declared himself fully fit to play, undermining suggestions he had struggled with a quad strain during the series-clinching nine-wicket win at Trent Bridge last week, and claimed he had already had enough rest time between matches.
"It would be extremely disappointing for me to miss out," he told the Mail on Sunday.
"It would be different if I felt fatigued or was struggling with an injury. But I believe I am fit to play - and while I am fit to play I want to play in every England game I can.
"Resting players is going to happen more and more often as the schedule gets busier and the ECB has been excellent at monitoring players to keep them fit and ready.
"Sure, this series has been hard work - back-to-back Tests always are; that's what we are used to and have to deal with the world over. But five days of rest is more than enough to be ready to play again.
"This winter, I was rested for the one-day series in India, Steve Finn bowled out of his skin and kept his place for the one-dayers in Dubai. Had Tim Bresnan not been injured for those, would I have got my place back?"
Anderson has missed just one of England past 25 Tests, since he was rested for the 2010 tour of Bangladesh, and as leader of the attack has inspired his side's rise to the top Test ranking.
But despite the Lancastrian's apparent protests national selector Geoff Miller said his omission had been made in his "best interests".
"James Anderson will miss this Investec Test as we look to manage his workload ahead of a busy period of cricket this summer and beyond, a decision which is in the best interests of the team and James himself," he said.
"We have been made to work hard for our two victories so far and are delighted to have secured the series, however we know that we will need to continue to play some good cricket if we want a third win against the West Indies this week."
A depth in talent in the fast bowling stocks has ensured England will remain firm favourites to continue their winning ways and whitewash the Windies at Edgbaston, with either Steven Finn or Graham Onions to step into the team.
Both understudies could yet be called into action, though, with England to decide on whether to also give Stuart Broad time off.
The 25-year-old arguably faces a more hectic schedule than Anderson this year as a fixture in all three formats, while he also has the added responsibility of captaining England's Twenty20 team ahead of their title defence in Sri Lanka immediately after the summer.
England Test skipper Andrew Strauss has previous reiterated the importance of balancing rotation with success, and dropping both new-ball bowlers would represent a risk.
Should Broad be retained then Finn is the man most likely to be called up after he replaced an injured Anderson against Sri Lanka at Lord's last summer.
That was one of just two Tests appearances for Finn since he was dropped during the last Ashes in Australia, as his blossoming career has been stalled by the form of those ahead of him.
In that time Tim Bresnan has usurped him, with a perfect record in his 13 Tests, as the preferred option behind Anderson and Broad.
The 23-year-old Finn had started his career at a gallop, with 53 wickets in 13 matches, and while he has taken a back seat of late that record has ensured he remains a key part of England's planning.
Whether any recall this week would be enough time to force his way past Bresnan for the South Africa series, which begins on July 19, remains to be seen with any thoughts of a shoot-out between the duo at Edgbaston unlikely given Bresnan's 'lucky charm' status, not to mention the added batting depth he would provide when the Proteas' feared attack comes knocking.
Indeed, Finn could even be overlooked this week for Onions who is more of a like-for-like swap.
Onions, who has not played a Test for two and a half years due to injury, also offered a timely reminder of his class by taking six wickets for Durham on Saturday as they almost snatched victory against county champions Lancashire at Chester-le-Street.
England: Andrew Strauss (Middlesex, captain), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Alastair Cook (Essex), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Graham Onions (Durham), Kevin Pietersen (Surrey), Matt Prior (Sussex, wicketkeeper), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)