James Anderson is confident England can benefit from any team selection changes that are made for the crucial last Test match in Sharjah, beginning Sunday.
Coach Trevor Bayliss hinted this week that batsman James Taylor could come in to replace out-of-form wicketkeeper Jos Buttler while decisions are also set to be made about the balance of the batting line-up as England try to level the three-Test series against Pakistan.
Paceman Anderson, who is the most prolific wicket-taker across all forms of the game in England’s history, has warned against wholesale changes to personnel but insists a fresh face could give England that extra bit of impetus they need.
“It’s always tough in a three-match series when you play the same side for two games and then to make a lot of changes might actually upset the balance of the team,” the 33-year-old said.
— Test Match Special (@bbctms) October 26, 2015
“But there’s always that option, we’ve actually got some great players who haven’t had a game on tour yet.
“It’s exciting to have that sort of talent on the bench to be able to come into the last Test and maybe give us that extra one, two, three per cent that we might need to get over the line.
“It’ll be a tough one for the selectors I guess and I’m quite happy I won’t be making that decision.”
Anderson has watched Nottinghamshire batsman Taylor at close quarters since the team’s arrival in the UAE and believes the 25-yearold’s credentials give him a genuine chance of ending his three-year exile from Test cricket.
“He’s been fantastic to have around, I’ve been very impressed with his play in the nets and warmup games,” said Anderson, who was speaking on behalf of England Cricket team sponsor Waitrose at The Rib Room in Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai.
“He’s obviously a very good player of spin, that’s one of his strengths so that would be a massive plus in these conditions if he was to come into the side.”
If England do choose Taylor over Buttler, then Jonny Bairstow would take the gloves and Taylor could be elevated to as high as number three in the batting stakes.
Buttler’s slump in form began during England’s victorious Ashes campaign and subsequent one-day series but his lack of runs have been firmly placed under the microscope since England landed in the UAE.
The Lancashire man has scored 34 runs in four Test innings so far, with only county and international team-mate Anderson making less, although the bowler’s statistics include two not outs in only three knocks. H
owever, despite the talk of Buttler being dropped, England’s swing king is certain the 25-year-old will remain a key member of the England side.
“Inevitably there will be someone out of form and talked about to be replaced. It’s difficult when that situation comes around and we know what Jos is capable of.
“He’s one of the most talented guys I’ve played with in the squad and it’s just frustrating for him more than anyone that he’s not getting the runs that he needs. It’s a tough one for him but he’s working so hard at his game to try and put that right.”
Having missed the last two Ashes Tests of the summer and not being considered for ODIs now, although he has not officially retired from the format, question marks were raised about Anderson’s ability to just keep going on and on. But England’s leading marksman has shown no signs of slowing down.
With seven wickets in the Pakistan series so far, the second highest behind Yasir Shah and Wahab Riaz who have both taken eight scalps, Anderson has elevated himself to ninth in the all-time Test wicket standings with 420 victims.
Statistics, though, are not what the Burnley-born paceman plays the game for. “It’s not something I’m too fussed about at the moment. I’m really enjoying playing cricket and I’m loving playing with this set of lads at the minute.”
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