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May 29, 2012
England will consider resting some of their frontline pace attack for the final Test against West Indies having wrapped up the series with victory at Trent Bridge. With an eye to the amount of cricket to come Andrew Strauss did not rule out giving James Anderson or Stuart Broad the match off at Edgbaston next week.
It was revealed that Anderson had been carrying a minor thigh niggle during the second Test which could make him favourite for some downtime although Broad, who is Twenty20 captain, plays all three formats so finding a space in the calendar to withdraw him for a short period is difficult. Anderson has bowled 111 overs in the first two Tests, Broad 102 and Tim Bresnan 100.
Following the conclusion of the Tests against West Indies there is a three-match one-day series and a Twenty20 before Australia arrive for five further ODIs; a controversial series given that the marquee clash of the summer, the Tests against South Africa, has been cut to three matches. Those three Tests will be high intensity, high pressure, affairs where England will need their main attack available.
"We'll definitely think about changes," Strauss said. "We've always viewed resting and rotating as something you have to do on a case-by-case basis so we'll speak to the seamers, see how they're feeling and see how we're looking for the rest of the summer.
"You always have to look quite a long way ahead when it comes to potentially resting someone. It's always a balance to strike because primarily you want to win every Test you play: that's the starting point. We'll have a conversation about it in the coming days."
Resting frontline bowlers who are near the top of the world rankings - Anderson is third and Broad is sixth, having dropped three places after this latest Test - will bring debate about whether it is devaluing Test cricket, but Strauss and Andy Flower will have more than one eye on the schedule over the next 18 months which includes tours to India and New Zealand and back-to-back Ashes series.
It is not as though England do not have strong reserves waiting in the wings. Steven Finn has expressed his frustration at remaining on the sidelines after a brief return to the team against Sri Lanka in Colombo. He currently sits on 13 Tests, which have brought him a productive 53 wickets, and his returns in one-day cricket over the winter were hugely impressive.
Graham Onions from Durham has been the other pace bowler in the squads for this series. He hasn't played for England since January 2009 against South Africa in Cape Town - where he survived the final over to secure a draw for the second time in three matches - after which he suffered a career-threatening back injury. Consistent performances for Durham put him back in the frame and he has been around a number of squads over the last six months.
"It's a difficult situation and I certainly wouldn't want to nail my colours to the mast one way or the other," Strauss said. "At this stage we have to sit down, think it through rationally and decide what the best course of action is, both for the Test match and for the long-term prospects of the team over the summer."
England have set the precedent for resting key players from series. Strauss himself sat out the tour to Bangladesh in early 2010 along with Anderson while in the return contest a few months later on English soil Broad and Paul Collingwood were left out.
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