Anderson seeking return to spotlight after year in shade

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Anderson &Amp; Jones. They sound like a local firm of estate agents. But sadly for these two exciting young fast bowlers it will be either Anderson or Jones who walks out behind Michael Vaughan, the England captain, in today's second Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston.

Anderson &Amp; Jones. They sound like a local firm of estate agents. But sadly for these two exciting young fast bowlers it will be either Anderson or Jones who walks out behind Michael Vaughan, the England captain, in today's second Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston.

The situation is one that James Anderson and Simon Jones have become accustomed to and this is the only decision England's selectors have to make. The Lancashire and Glamorgan pacemen have each played in eight Tests but are yet to line up in the same starting XI.

Jones was the first of the pair to make his Test debut in 2002. His first scoring shot against the Indians was a straight six into the Lord's pavilion. His hostility allowed him to claim four wickets in an emphatic England victory. A rib injury prevented the 25-year-old from playing in the last three Tests that summer and in his next game for England - against Australia in Brisbane - he ruptured his cruciate ligament diving in the field.

Jones's absence gave Anderson his chance. The 21-year-old was called into the Ashes squad and made an instant impact in the one-day series. He then starred in the 2003 World Cup, took 5 for 73 on his Test debut at Lord's and became the first England bowler to take a hat-trick in a one-day international.

With Anderson being lauded as a superstar, Jones was soon forgotten. But this was as good as it got for the Burnley lad. As the summer of 2003 progressed, Anderson tired and his star faded. A knee injury and a twisted ankle kept him out of all but one of the five Tests in Asia before Christmas and it was only when England travelled to the Caribbean in February that the pair finally lined up in direct competition against each other.

In the West Indies, Stephen Harmison, Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff took three of the four fast-bowling spots and the fit-again Jones was given the nod. In Jamaica, he dismissed the West Indies captain, Brian Lara, for 23 and then took his first five-wicket haul in Trinidad.

Since then the Welshman has gained selection ahead of Anderson on each occasion he has been fit, and this should remain the case today. England took a risk at Lord's by picking Jones ahead of Anderson in what was essentially a four-man attack. The selectors knew that Flintoff's involvement with the ball would be minimal yet opted for the less consistent of the two. Jones did not bowl particularly well but thanks to Ashley Giles's efforts this gamble did not prove costly.

Flintoff is expected to bowl more overs this week and playing Jones would be less of a risk. It makes sense to persevere with him. Flintoff offers Vaughan reassuring cover and England can afford to accommodate a wild-card bowler, in the hope that his hostility may produce a special delivery if things go flat.

When Anderson was grabbing the headlines he appeared to be blessed with a golden arm - the ability to take wickets with bad balls - but this seems to have deserted him, and the selectors must now weigh up the pitch and overhead conditions before making a final decision.

If the pitch is hard and rough - like paving slabs - then Jones's ability to reverse-swing a scuffed-up old ball gains him an advantage. But if the pitch is grassy and the weather humid, Anderson, a conventional swing bowler, enters the fray. Yet the conditions here lie somewhere in between.

"It will be a difficult decision," admitted Vaughan. "Simon came to Lord's a little bit rusty but he had a couple of good spells in the game. But traditionally it is orthodox swing which plays a more important part at Edgbaston and this brings Jimmy more into the fold. This creates headaches but having these options, the sort we have not had for a long time, is a good situation to be in."

Whoever plays may not enjoy the pitch that has been prepared for this match. It is dry and already cracking, which encouraged the Warwickshire groundsman, Steve Rouse, to keep it covered for most of yesterday afternoon. This may lead to uneven bounce from the fourth day, which makes it unlikely that Lara will again invite England to bat should he win the toss.

Vaughan, after centuries in each innings at Lord's, was naturally upbeat about his team's chances and his own form. "I think it is going to be another hard week for the bowlers," he said after inspecting the pitch. "The outfield looks very fast and the rate of scoring could be similar to Lord's. It will be an exciting game for everyone to watch and good for the batters."

Jimmy's cricket England since Anderson

2003

May

England beat Zimbabwe, first Test at Lord's; Anderson 5-73 and 0-65 on his Test debut.

June

England beat Zimbabwe, second Test at Chester-le-Street; Anderson 2-30 and 4-55.

July

England draw with South Africa, first Test at Edgbaston; Anderson 0-92 and 1-37.

England lose to South Africa, second Test at Lord's; Anderson 2-90.

August

England beat South Africa, third Test at Trent Bridge; Anderson 5-102 and 2-17.

England lose to South Africa, fourth Test at Headingley. Anderson 1-63 and 1-56.

September

England beat South Africa, fifth Test at The Oval. Anderson 2-86 and 1-55.

October

England beat Bangladesh, first Test at Dhaka, October 2003; Anderson had withdrawn from the tour through injury on 25 September.

November

England beat Bangladesh, second Test at Chittagong; Anderson is absent through injury.

December

England draw with Sri Lanka, first Test at Galle; Anderson is absent through injury.

England draw with Sri Lanka, second Test at Kandy: Anderson not selected.

England lose to Sri Lanka, third Test at Colombo; Anderson 0-85.

2004

March

England beat the West Indies, first Test in Jamaica; Anderson not selected.

England beat the West Indies, second Test at Trinidad; Anderson not selected.

April

England beat the West Indies, third Test in Barbados; Anderson not selected.

England draw with the West Indies, fourth Test in Antigua; Anderson not selected.

May

England beat New Zealand, first Test at Lord's; Anderson not selected.

JUNE

England beat New Zealand, second Test at Headingley; Anderson absent through injury.

England beat New Zealand, third Test at Trent Bridge; Anderson not selected.

July

England beat the West Indies, first Test at Lord's; Anderson not selected.

M Wkts Ave 5w R/R
Anderson 8 26 34.85 2 60.44
Jones 8 21 37.14 1 61.91

R/R = runs conceded per 100 balls.

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