Birmingham: England captain Andrew Strauss has insisted resting James Anderson from the third Test against the West Indies will enable the strike bowler to play more international cricket in the long-run. England, 2-0 up in the three-match series, have decided now is the time to give Anderson a break with a packed schedule in front of them, and reserve seamers Steven Finn and Graham Onions eager for action.
Anderson, however, has made clear his unhappiness at being rested for the third Test, which starts at Edgbaston here on Thursday. But Strauss, speaking at the ground on Wednesday, defended the decision by saying: "Jimmy Anderson has missed out and with good reason. It's a tough thing for any player not to play in a Test but with this schedule as it is, you have to manage your resources cleverly. The idea of rotating and resting is that they end up playing more, not less. The last thing you want is for someone to be playing to the extent that they're dead on their feet and get injured and are out for months."
England's aim is to make sure Anderson is fully fit for the upcoming Test series against South Africa, where they will put their world number one ranking on the line. But Strauss insisted England were not getting ahead of themselves. "South Africa is on the horizon but it's still on the horizon, not right here yet. For us to look too far ahead is generally a little bit dangerous."
Although they have included Stuart Broad in a 12-man squad, Anderson's new-ball partner and England's Twenty20 captain could be rested as well if England decided to play both Finn and Onions. "It's a possibility he might miss out," Strauss said. "When it comes down to selecting a side we do it in the morning [of the match]."
Finn, who has 53 wickets in 13 Tests, and Onions, with 28 in eight, have had to wait patiently for their chance this series and Strauss said: "They have both been chomping at the bit. It speaks volumes for them the way they have reacted to not playing, and also speaks volumes for the strength in depth we've got in our seam bowling resources that guys of that quality are sitting out. One of them will get the opportunity at least and I'm sure whoever gets it will be keen to take it."
This match is also set to mark the start of star batsman Kevin Pietersen's England career as a Test player only after the South Africa born shotmaker retired from one-day international cricket when the management refused to let him play just Twenty20 matches and Tests and insisted he also, as per his contract, continued to make himself available for 50 overs per side contests. "His mood has been very good," said Strauss.
"In a lot of ways it's probably a relief for him to get it out there and get it all done and dusted."
Kevin has made that decision and we all respect it. Kevin went into it with his eyes open. He knew what the situation was and what the ramifications were, and we're all just looking forward now. "The schedules are hard and if you've got a young family and you've been playing for quite a long time, it's quite hard to keep yourself fresh enough mentally," said Strauss who retired from one-dayers after the 2011 World Cup.
"The most important thing is that mentally you understand that you're giving away a certain part of the game," the opening batsman added."If you're not ready to do it, then it can eat away at you. Certainly in my case, that wasn't the case."