ENGLAND will be taking great care with their most precious commodity for the Durham Test.
Coach Andy Flower knows the value of keeping his pace attack fit for purpose for the second of two back-to-back Ashes Tests at a venue often tailor-made for their skills.
To that end, after England retained the Ashes in a rain-affected draw at Emirates Old Trafford on Monday, the selectors immediately added two more options to cover for the three who bore the brunt of the workload in Manchester. Chris Tremlett has been retained from the initial squad for the third Investec Test and Graham Onions brought back into the reckoning for a possible return on his home ground.
"Our bowlers will need to look after themselves over the next few days to be ready," Flower said.
"Durham can traditionally help the fast bowlers, so we would like to exploit that help up there."
England's leading pace bowler James Anderson was a match-winner in the first Test at Trent Bridge, where he had to bowl 13 overs in succession on the final morning to help sneak victory in a titanic tussle. He has been less successful in two matches since and was wicket-less on his home ground in the first innings.
England's management will doubtless be mindful of asking too much of such prize assets in this double Ashes year, and Flower said: "Onions and Tremlett have been added to the 11 that played here and that gives us flexibility if we want it."
Flower, captain Alastair Cook and his predecessor Andrew Strauss have long refused to look too far ahead, even when the temptation is obvious.
"We are in a great position, but we want to ensure all our focus is on the next Test," said Flower.
"Retaining the Ashes is important, of course, and I'm very proud of the team.
"The team are obviously proud after a hard-fought Test, a hard-fought three Tests, to be in this position. But we do want to go on to Durham and win up there."