James Anderson has admitted England’s rotation policy can be ‘frustrating’ but the 38-year-old recognises the benefits as he looks to prolong his career.
Anderson took five wickets as England won the opening Test against India in Chennai at the start of the month but was rested for the second match – a 317-run defeat on the same ground.
England’s record wicket-taker is expected to return for the day/night Test which begins in Ahmedabad’s newly-built 110,000-capacity Sardar Patel Stadium on Wednesday, where conditions could see seam bowling come back to the fore.
“You have got to try and look at the bigger picture,” Anderson said. “The idea was if I missed that one, that would give me the best chance of being fit and firing for the pink-ball Test.
“So that’s where I am at, I am feeling good and fresh and ready to go again if called upon. It’s frustrating to an extent but I can see the bigger picture with the amount of cricket that we have got.”
Anderson pointed to the injury setbacks he has suffered in the last two years – missing most of the Ashes in 2019 and being ruled out of two Tests in South Africa at the start of 2020 – as the costs of playing too much.
“It’s the same for all bowlers, not just me,” he said. “We’ve got 17 Test matches this year and the best way of getting your best players firing for as many of those as possible is to take little rests every now and then.
“It’s not a case of shielding, it’s just a case of trying to make sure you’re not wearing someone out until they completely break in half.”
Some hard yards for our quicks in Ahmedabad 🥵 pic.twitter.com/71l8ZB76j1
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) February 19, 2021
Last week’s defeat puts the focus on the remaining two matches given England need to win this series 3-1 in order to qualify for the World Test Championship final.
With that in mind, there are key decisions to make with the seam bowlers. Mark Wood is back after being rested and Olly Stone impressed in Chennai, while Jofra Archer would be first-choice if he has recovered from an elbow injury.
But with a day/night Test opening up the possibility of movement, the pairing of Anderson and Stuart Broad could be hard to resist.
The duo, who share more than 1100 wickets between them, have only played together in nine Tests in the last two years – and Anderson admitted it was hard to know how many more times they might be seen in tandem again.
“That has definitely crossed my mind,” he said. “Ideally we would get into a position where there will be times – a crucial game potentially – when they want the experience there of both of us and that might get called upon.
“All we can do is when we get the nod do the best for the team, try and stay in as good shape as possible, stay as fit as possible and eventually whether it’s in the summer or the back end of the year hopefully we will get the chance to play again together.”
The first two Tests were unsurprisingly dominated by spin, but the conditions of a day-night match are expected to change the equation dramatically.
In their only previous day/nighter on home soil, India took all 20 wickets against Bangladesh with pace.
1st look at Cricket’s 🏏 largest stadium 🏟 110,000 capacity pretty impressive 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/TvkPmti8y5
— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) February 19, 2021
Zak Crawley has said that should give England the edge, but Anderson was more cautious, insisting it was impossible to predict.
“No pressure on the seamers, Zak – thanks mate,” he said when reminded of Crawley’s comments.
“It potentially (gives us an advantage), yeah. We have got a little bit of experience with the pink ball. But this is the second Test match in India, the first one in February.
“We don’t know how it’s going to behave.”