Former England captain Nasser Hussain has said he would play veteran fast bowler James Anderson in the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval starting from Thursday unless he thinks that his time in international cricket is over.
Anderson was rested for England's three-wicket win at Headingley but returned to their side for the fourth Test at Manchester to pick figures of one for 81 in 37 overs. In the ongoing series, Anderson has taken just four wickets in three matches at an average of 76.75.
“What I do know is that Anderson has had two or three average games this summer and, over the course of his career, he has tended to bounce back from such displays, so I would play him unless he himself feels that he is finished at international level. Only the individual knows when the time is right to retire, whether they are physically and mentally done.”
“Yes, Anderson’s wickets cost 32 runs apiece there, considerably more expensive than his career mark of 26 -— but four months ago he was the No.1-ranked bowler in the world and although it might be the oldest cliche, class is permanent,” wrote Hussain in his column for Daily Mail.
Anderson will be facing tough competition from Ollie Robinson or Josh Tongue to hold on to his place in the playing eleven for The Oval Test, during which he will be turning 41.
“There are only so many times you can go to the well, only so many times you get out of bed, strap those bowling boots on and go again.”
“That point will come for Anderson, but I don’t see in his body language that he’s running on empty. He’s just performing a bit below par. When a great is a bit below par, it would be very unfair -— wrong, in fact — to leave him out. Great cricketers just deserve that little bit more, in keeping with their mighty efforts,” added Hussain.
In 182 Test appearances, Anderson has picked 689 wickets. Hussain feels Anderson could have made an impact if he was played at Headingley.
“But I do know that in this series, the first two pitches were unresponsive, with no lateral movement. I couldn’t think of a worse combination for someone like Jimmy.”
“Remember, he missed out on the spiciest pitch of the series at Headingley. I don’t see a massive drop-off in his pace, he just hasn’t done as much with the ball this year as in previous years and I cannot put my finger on why. Maybe it’s not a summer of swing.”
“My gut feeling looking at him is that he is not a cricketer who is done, but the England selectors should pick what they believe is their best team and avoid any thoughts of heading down the romantic route. Now they must pick their best side, in the knowledge that for the last 15 years Anderson has always been in it,” he concluded.