Jimmy Anderson was dropped by England yesterday, in the interests of himself and the team. The leader of the side's attack will not play in the Third Test against West Indies, which starts in Birmingham on Thursday, and the squad of 13 for the first two matches has been reduced to 12.
Thus, the worst kept secret in cricket was confirmed. Anderson told the ghost of his imminent autobiography of the decision shortly after he was informed on Friday evening. Soon, it was common knowledge.
From the comments he made to the Sunday newspaper for which he writes a column, Anderson was not exactly jumping for joy. "Nobody would volunteer to be left out of this side," he said. "Who knows what may happen in the future with injury or loss of form. This is a great team to be involved in. I think it would be hard to take if I was rested and lost my place."
England are intent on resting their players when they think fit – and 2-0 up with one to play is one of those times. But it is also evidence that England are simply playing too much cricket and have to watch their best players. With 15 Tests this year, as well as the usual limited-overs internationals, this is one match for Anderson to miss. That said, he would have had 10 days between matches had he played and almost six weeks until his next Test.
In announcing their squad, which means that Steve Finn or Graham Onions will play, the selectors said Anderson needed treatment on a quadricep during the Test and that the rest would give him a chance to overcome several minor injuries. Geoff Miller, the national selector, said: "James Anderson will miss this Test as we look to manage his workload ahead of a busy period of cricket this summer and beyond, a decision which is in the best interest of the team and James himself."
It remains possible that Stuart Broad will also be rested. If not, the Onions-Finn call is difficult. In Broad's absence Finn played the Second Test against Sri Lanka in April.
Jonny Bairstow, as expected, has retained his place at No 6. Without the injured Kemar Roach his life should be easier because the venom of the short stuff will be reduced. But the South African speed merchants will be waiting to ambush him later in the summer.