EXCLUSIVE: Anderson rested for third Test… and Broad next to go as Onions waits
21:00 GMT, 1 June 2012
Jimmy Anderson, the leader of England’s attack, is to be left out of the squad for the third Test against West Indies as Andy Flower attempts to protect his leading players from a crippling workload.
England have decided that, with the Wisden Trophy already retained, it is in their interests to rest their best bowler and instead give a well-earned opportunity to Steven Finn at Edgbaston.
It could well be that Stuart Broad, another bowler at the peak of his powers, joins Anderson on the sidelines but England have not yet decided whether Broad needs a break and will name him in a 12-man squad. Then he will be monitored when England begin practice at Edgbaston on Tuesday ahead of the final Investec Test, which starts on Thursday.
Well earned rest: Jimmy Anderson will sit out the third Test at Edgbaston
England squad (probable)
Andrew Strauss (capt), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wkt), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, Graham Onions.
The news will disappoint Anderson, who is desperate to carry on while at the top of his game even though he has bowled 111 overs in the two Tests against West Indies so far and ended the second match at Trent Bridge with stiffness in a thigh.
Broad is another frontline England player who, as he told Sportsmail this week, is keen not to stand down for even one game while bowling so well but he could well be replaced by the equally deserving Graham Onions in Birmingham.
Flower, the England team director, has decided to risk being unpopular with his spearheads for what he considers are the best of reasons, keeping them fresh for the tougher assignments ahead.
Back in the runs: England's No 6 Jonny
Bairstow, retained for next week's Third Investec Test despite a working over by West Indies paceman Kemar
Roach at Trent Bridge, hit 68 for Yorkshire against Northants at Headingley
Chance to shine: Steven Finn
England lost one key player from all limited-overs cricket this week in Kevin Pietersen and Flower is desperate that the non-stop cricket over the next two years will not claim any other casualties. It is a fair argument with England facing a congested calendar which features one-day series against West Indies and Australia before the Test showdown with South Africa.
In truth the move should not reduce England’s chances of winning again and defeating West Indies 3-0, even though the tourists have been far more competitive than expected.
Finn has become the fastest of all England bowlers and a regular in the one-day side but has been consistently kept out of Tests because of the excellence of those in front of him. He deserves a chance now and can be expected to take it.
Onions, too, has proved himself ready to return to international cricket after recovering from a serious back injury and has been in exceptional form for Durham this season, taking five for 43 in their current match against Lancashire.
Tim Bresnan, man of the match for his eight wickets at Trent Bridge, will carry on because he is only just back to his best after elbow surgery and will be given the chance to record his 14th Test victory out of 14.
Another who will be told to carry on is Jonny Bairstow, despite the working over he received from Kemar Roach at Trent Bridge.
Something to ponder: Andy Flower (right) could also rest Stuart Broad (left)
England know Bairstow will have to work on his technique against the short ball but are confident he will come through the problem, particularly as his tormentor-in-chief Roach has been ruled out of the rest of the tour.
Bairstow was back in form for Yorkshire, scoring 68 against Northants in front of selector James Whitaker, and will retain his place at six, particularly as his main rival Ravi Bopara is yet to play for Essex after recovering from a thigh injury.
Pietersen, meanwhile, has told Surrey that he will commit to playing for them far more often now he has become simply a Test player. Surrey expect a man who has rarely shown much appetite for county cricket before to be available for their Twenty20 campaign from the end of June and beyond.
It raises the possibility of Pietersen being dominant for Surrey in Twenty20 while being denied the chance to play in the shortest format internationally, England having decided that as he wants to retire from 50-over cricket he will not be picked for their Twenty20 matches either.
Fine form: Graham Onions has been bowling well for Durham this year
At least Pietersen will be able to carry on playing the shot he pioneered, the left-handed switch-hit, without restrictions for now as the ICC’s cricket committee announced that they will recommend no changes to the lbw law to be ‘fairer’ to bowlers. Instead they have asked MCC, custodians of the laws of the game, for further direction.
The world governing body’s cricket committee, which has made a number of recommendations to the ICC executive board, also issued a vote of confidence in the accuracy of HawkEye and the new improved Hot Spot as part of the decision-review system.
The ICC will retain the Duckworth-Lewis method for revising targets in rain-affected matches and also suggested yet more tinkering to the 50-over format in an attempt to make it less formulaic.
The bottom line is that one-day internationals all too often provide predictable, tired cricket, however much tinkering is made to the rules, as Pietersen would undoubtedly agree.