Anderson waits for his opening
It's been a frustrating winter so far for James Anderson, last summer's golden boy, who has been forced to wait his turn during the Test series and the first one-day international in Guyana. But with England facing the prospect of back-to-back matches in Trinidad this weekend, he has the chance to stake his claim once again.
"Once you're out of the team on these short tours it's very hard to prove you're in form to get back into the side," said Anderson, whose last international appearance was the disastrous third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo last December. "You're always looking for a chance to prove yourself, so hopefully I will get a chance during the remainder of the series.
"It's been a very long trip," he admitted, "but that's the way it goes sometimes. You do get bored and frustrated as well, but you can't show that you're down because it will affect the other players - you have to stay happy and jolly around the side and try to gee them up. It's just a question of working hard, training hard and waiting for your chance."
Anderson has kept himself occupied with daily workouts with the team fitness coach, Nigel Stockill, while Troy Cooley has been fine-tuning his bowling in the nets. But, as Anderson admitted, it is tough to be stuck on the sidelines when you are used to being the focus of attention.
"Starting from last winter I've almost become a regular," he said, "But you should never take things for granted. You have to play every game as if it's your last, because otherwise things start to go wrong. It's been a necessary learning experience. There's not really been a lowest point for me, but I'd like to think I've not done much wrong on the trip - I'm quite happy with the way I've done my training and I'd like to think I've worked as hard as anyone."
England's crowning glory this winter - winning a Test series in the Caribbean for the first time in 36 years - was a particularly bittersweet moment for Anderson. "I did join the lap of honour, but it was uncomfortable," he admitted. "It was a great effort by the team and it was a great experience watching them go round, but at the same time it felt a little bit strange having not played. I wasn't dragged out there, but I just hung at the back and let them enjoy it.
"It has crossed my mind that I may have done something wrong," said Anderson. "At times, like on Sunday [when James Kirtley was selected ahead of him], you're trying to scan your mind to work out what you've done wrong. But the management have been pretty good in that respect. They have tried to prepare me all the time. You never know when there is going to be an injury."
With a home Test series against New Zealand fast approaching, Anderson's exile is sure to end sooner rather than later. Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff, who have played a key role throughout the Caribbean tour, are likely to be used sparingly in the coming weeks, to ensure they are at peak fitness for the start of the English season.