England v West Indies: Resting James Anderson is right decision
England have made the right decision to rest James Anderson for the final West Indies Test, and give Steve Finn a chance to impress
The England management team’s decision to drop bowler James Anderson for the final Test against the West Indies will be an ever-present talking point over the next week.
On the one hand, there is the school of thought which suggests England should capitalise on their dominance over the West Indies, and therefore play their best team on Friday.
However, there is a daunting series against South Africa to think about and, with that in mind, should England be risking their best players in what is essentially a dead-rubber fixture?
England coach Andy Flower has made it quite clear that his priorities lie in a squad rotation policy.
“The days of us playing our players until they either wear down significantly or snap physically or mentally, those days are over,” he said earlier this week.
In resting Anderson for this test, England are not showing a sign of weakness but actually one of strength because they can afford to drop such a key player and not allow it to have a seriously detrimental effect on the team.
England have already won this series regardless of the result in the third Test at Edgbaston, and before people start criticising the decision to drop Anderson, perhaps they should think about his potential replacements.
The most likely candidate to fill the void is Steven Finn – the only England bowler who can consistently bowl faster than 90mph and has the genuine ability to scare the inexperienced West Indies top order into submission.
Finn was England’s leading wicket taker in the 2010/11 Ashes series before he was left out after the third Test in Perth, and it is only due to the consistency of Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett in recent series that he has been unable to force his way back into the test team.
Statistically, England’s reserve bowling attack of Finn, Tremlett, Monty Panesar and Graham Onions would rank at No4 in the world behind only England’s front line attack, South Africa and Australia.
They present a better bowling option than the West Indies could even dream of, and with the current state of the tourists’ top four, it’s unlikely that their young batsmen would particularly relish facing any of England’s reserve attack.
It is extremely important for England to rotate their bowling attack wherever appropriate. Big money franchise teams all over the world, particularly those playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) are desperate for English players but in recent times have found it difficult to lure the best players away from their county and international duties.
The danger is that we are producing so many cricketers of the highest calibre that those who aren’t playing regularly could be tempted by a lucrative IPL contract if they keep seeing the door to the England squad being slammed shut in their faces.
Twenty20 franchise cricket is a huge danger to international cricket, and it has impacted heavily on Kevin Pietersen’s decision to retire from all forms of One-Day International cricket.
The issue for England is successfully keeping a group of players hungry for Test match cricket, and if a rotational squad policy will help to achieve that then it can only be a helpful thing.
To date, the damage has been limited, with only fringe international players such as Dimitri Mascarenhas regularly heading out to India to earn big money in the IPL.
This season saw more established players such as Eoin Morgan and Pietersen secure extended moves out to India, with Pietersen’s stint playing for the Delhi Daredevils proving incredibly lucrative.
IPL team’s chairman will be eager to target the quality reserve players that England currently possess, and Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss need to ensure that players such as Finn and Tremlett are given an opportunity to showcase their talents for England at relevant and regular opportunities.