James Anderson will miss the final Test of the series in Chennai with what has been described as “body soreness” by England captain, Alastair Cook.
Anderson, who missed England’s two Tests in Bangladesh and the first Test of this series due to a shoulder injury, was later said to have experienced “soreness” in his ankles and in the shoulder.
While Cook said Anderson “could get through” the game and was disappointed to be missing out, he explained that the England camp wanted to take no chances with a bowler who they felt “can make a big contribution” to their Test fortunes over the next couple of years.
“It’s not worth the risk,” Cook said. “When he has been in this situation over the last six months and we have played him, he has picked up injuries. It doesn’t seem the right time to play him.
“He is sore from the previous game and we, as a management group, don’t think it’s worth taking a risk.
“Could he get through? Yes, he possibly could. But over the last six months when we’ve played him, he has picked up an injury.”
Anderson has now missed eight of England’s most recent 23 Tests, including five this year.
Bearing in mind England’s schedule – they do not play another Test until July – it does seem an abundantly cautious decision and will lead some to conclude that he has been dropped. And it is true that his record in this series – four wickets at a cost of 53.50 apiece and no wickets in the two most recent Tests – is not wonderful.
But this decision is more likely to be a manifestation of how highly valued Anderson remains in the eyes of the England management and how vital he is to their plans for the English summer of 2017, the Ashes and, perhaps, beyond. With England 3-0 down, it is a dead rubber.
“I’m very confident he can make a big contribution to English cricket over the next couple of years,” Cook said. “But we’re going to have to manage him a bit more in Tests. He might miss a couple more Tests as a precaution. He might not. With a couple of months off now, his body might fly again. He’s a very athletic guy and he’s very light on his feet. He can still make a big difference to English cricket over the next couple of years.”
Stuart Broad could come back into the side in place of Anderson, but a decision over his fitness will only be made after training on Thursday. Liam Dawson, the left-arm spinner, could also replace Anderson and provide the side with some of the balance it appeared to miss in Mumbai.