England’s decision to ignore James Anderson for their two-match Test series in Sri Lanka despite the veteran fast bowler declaring himself fit has been praised by Nasser Hussain as a ‘sensible’ call.
Anderson has been battling fitness issues in the past few months. He had hurt his calf on the very first day of Ashes opener against Australia last year. His next appearance came in South Africa Test series but then he ended up injuring himself again in Cape Town, cracking a rib that ended his tour.
But he has recently claimed to have fully recovered and made himself available for selection. Former England captain Hussain says Sri Lanka isn’t the most pacer-friendly country and by leaving Anderson out, the selectors have made the right call.
“If they were going anywhere but Sri Lanka, I would pick Anderson straightaway but Sri Lanka is such a backbreaker for seamers, so I think it is the most sensible thing to do,” Hussain told Sky Sports. “At 37, do the selectors want him to play two Tests on spin-friendly pitches where it does little for the seamers?”
“I know he (Anderson) wants to, he’d love to be there having missed so much cricket but I think it’s best if he gets ready for the summer and that first Test,” he added.
On Tuesday, England named their Test squad recalling left-handed batsman Keaton Jennings who has a solid record on Asian pitches. Hussain said should Jennings end up performing well, the selection panel will have to make some difficult choices for their home summer.
“The present selection panel have been very much horses for courses and this is the original horse for a spin-friendly course,” Hussain said. “The problem is that if he does well does he start next summer or will he only play on spin-friendly pitches? It’s an odd one and a real turnaround from the way sides uses to be selected.”
England have rested Jonny Bairstow but Hussain feels he would have taken him to Sri Lanka. “He is a high-quality player of spin and a good catcher around the bat. He is exceptional at short leg against the spinners which you have to take into the equation. I understand why he has been recalled but it’s a bit short term for me. I’d think long term and get players ready for all conditions,” he said.
He continued, “I would have gone for Bairstow as back-up batsman as I see him as the more complete player, even though his Test record has not been great of late.”