Cricket Betting: England rests bowlers
Andrew Strauss has already hinted as much, saying that England are likely to rest some of their bowling attack for the game
England has preserved its number one status in Test Cricket rankings after it's second Test win against the West Indies, something Richard O'Hagan ponders over as he previews the third and final test.
England's management team woke up this morning in an unprecedented position. Victory inside four days at Trent Bridge gave them a day off, a series victory and the Wisden Trophy, but they have been there before. It also gave them an eighth consecutive home series victory, which is nothing to be sneezed at (even in hay fever season), but that was not the important thing.
What was important was keeping the status of number one side in the world. Beating the West Indies meant that particular title cannot now be taken from them before the start of the South Africa series later in the summer, meaning that for the first time in living memory they really can treat a Test match against the Windies as little more than a practice game.
Andrew Strauss has already hinted as much, saying that England are likely to rest some of their bowling attack for the game. Which for all practical purposes, means James Anderson and probably Stuart Broad.
Resting your opening bowlers is never a step to be taken lightly, but England are blessed with more than capable replacements. Steven Finn and Graham Onions have been a part of the squad since the beginning of the series, with many observers thinking that Finn was unlucky not to be chosen ahead of Tim Bresnan, although not many will think that now after the Yorkshireman's man of the match performance at Trent Bridge.
Finn is no stranger to deputising for Broad. He replaced him in the second Test against Sri Lanka back in March, turning in match figures of 3-81 from 37.1 overs, a miserly performance on a pitch which didn't suit his bowling. His Test average of a fraction over 26 runs per wicket is better than Broad's and he has already picked up 18 wickets in the County Championship this year, despite only playing three games.
Replacing Anderson with Onions creates a similar like-for-like situation. The Durham man's career has been blighted by injury, but his 27 Championship wickets this year have come at a cost of only 12.88 each and he is clearly back to the form that first earned him a Test call in 2009.
The one concern that the England management will have is that bringing in both players gives them a side with two genuine number eleven batsmen. This both mitigates against them also resting either Bresnan (though would they dare on his home ground?) or Graeme Swann, even though the latter's batting has tailed off of late. An outside possibility, therefore, is a first call up for Kent's Matt Coles.
With Chris Tremlett still feeling his way back after his latest back operation, Ajmal Shehzad out of favour just about everywhere and Jade Dernbach consigned to the ranks of the one-day specialists, Coles appears to be the next toy out of the box so far as Andy Flower is concerned. He bowls with decent pace, has taken 34 wickets already this year (at a lower cost than Onions' wickets, too) and averages over 33 with the bat, including a maiden hundred. That he already has match figures of 6-118 against the tourists this season won't hurt his cause, either.
Swann can be reasonably sure of his place at Headingley. He has been lightly bowled so far in the series, is a man who is reluctant to rest from any part of his game and, more importantly, simply doesn't have the competition for his spot that the pacemen do. Monty Panesar has only taken 13 wickets in six games this year. Samit Patel has similar figures but is clearly not regarded as a front line spinner by his own county, let alone his country, and the much-touted Danny Briggs has only played two games all season.
Whatever changes England do make will, of course, affect who becomes top wicket taker in this series. Anderson has 9 wickets so far and Broad 14, but if both are stood down for Headingley, this would leave Bresnan, also with nine wickets, the chance to overtake them both.
At Betfair odds of 4.23 he would be a chance worth taking.