England head coach Chris Silverwood is still prepared to rest James Anderson for the second Test against India, despite the paceman’s remarkable display of reverse swing in the series opener.
Anderson emerged as England’s key man as they made their final push for victory in Chennai, taking three wickets for just six runs in a virtually unplayable spell.
With the next match taking place at the same ground from Saturday, the temptation to let Anderson loose again is obvious, but it is one the tourists are ready to resist.
At the age of 38, Anderson’s fitness levels are said to be better than ever but, with the exhausting heat and tightly-packed fixtures, the policy of rotating him with long-term partner Stuart Broad remains on the table.
Broad hardly represents a downgrade, having put together some of the best form of his career in the past 18 months, and Silverwood is keen to play the long game where his seamers are concerned.
“It is hard (to leave Anderson out), he is a class act. But you’ll have to wait and see,” he said.
“Broady didn’t play in the last game and we’ve many bowlers here who we could play at any given point. I’m not reluctant to change a winning team now if it’s the best thing to do for the players, the team and the longevity of it.
“You run the risk of the result being different, but you could play the same team and the result could still be different because we know India will come back hard.”
If Anderson does make way, he has at least left the bar impressively high for Broad.
“Jimmy blew the game open for us, it was quite remarkable to watch,” said Silverwood.
“It just shows what a class act he is. He went a long way to helping us win that game.”
As for the man himself, Anderson is ready to go again if required but will understand if he finds himself cheering from the side.
“When a batsman gets in rhythm and form, they want to keep batting and keep that that rhythm going, and it’s the same for a bowler,” he said, having moved back to third place in the International Cricket Council’s bowling rankings.
“You want to keep that going if possible, but I’m very aware that we’ve got four Test matches in quick succession here and there will probably be a need to rest and rotate. So I’m not assuming anything.”
England are already bound to at least one change to their XI, with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler flying back home for some pre-agreed down time and Ben Foakes set to return.
There is also a decision to be made over Dom Bess. The off-spinner took five wickets, including the prize scalp of India skipper Virat Kohli, but saw his performance drop off sharply amid a flurry of full tosses in the fourth innings.
Moeen Ali, a veteran of 60 Tests and 181 wickets, is waiting in the wings having fully recovered from his brush with coronavirus.
“I think Dom just had a bad day, which can happen to anybody,” said Silverwood.
“The top and bottom of that one is that we’ll get in the nets, we’ll get bowling again and I’m sure he’ll get straight back on the bike.
“We are rotating the fast bowlers and, if we feel we need to do it, then we have the options available to rotate the spin bowlers. But I’m not concerned at this moment in time.”
Both teams are preparing to play in front of spectators for the first time since the pandemic saw behind-closed-doors cricket become the norm, with local authorities due to welcome up to 15,000 fans per day.
“I’ve no concerns about the bubble,” Silverwood said of the development.
“They have been brilliant since we’ve been here, we all feel safe and I’m sure things will be done properly. To get some noise in the ground again will be fantastic. It will be some sort of normality and it will give the lads a lift.”
Anderson and double centurion Joe Root both had a rankings boost after their impressive showings last time out, with the captain going third in the ICC’s batting list.