Stuart Broad to replace James Anderson for England’s third Test in Colombo
Broad will make his first Test appearance on the tour of Sri Lanka as England aim to complete a series whitewash.
James Anderson will stand aside for his long-time partner Stuart Broad as England look to seal a rare series whitewash this week, admitting he has felt “like a spare part” on the spinning pitches of Sri Lanka.
The nation’s leading wicket-taker has been told to put his feet up in Colombo, rested for the first time since 2012, with Broad taking the role of senior seamer after being overlooked during England’s victories in Galle and Kandy.
Anderson rejected the chance to sit out the entire tour but his enthusiasm has been tested by the surfaces on offer in Sri Lanka. The 36-year-old has sent down a total of 41 overs in four innings with his solitary dismissal coming when he found Dimuth Karunaratne’s edge with his second ball of the trip.
For a man so used to leading from the front, it has been challenging experience and one he is not entirely upset about passing on to the man he has played 111 Tests with.
“Joe Root told me this morning. I had a feeling it might be the case; there might be a few changes. You don’t want to miss a Test – I never like it – but I understand the reasoning behind it,” Anderson said.
“Broady’s going to play instead of me. The thinking is that with the series sewn up it’s an opportunity to rotate.
“We’re going to the West Indies (in the new year) and with a view to that, I think the feeling is they want Broady to get some Test cricket under his belt. So it’s going to be a week off (for me).
“It’s been a frustrating trip for me really because you want to contribute to the wins and I feel like I’ve tried my best but it’s not really been a series for the seamers.
“I feel like a bit of a spare part but I think that’s just the nature of playing cricket here.
“The wickets that we’ve had have obviously been very suitable for the spin bowlers so it’s frustrating in a way for me not to have as much influence as I would have liked or have done in games elsewhere in the world, but that just the nature of playing out here.
“As frustrating as it’s been for me personally, it’s been brilliant to be a part of such a great series for the team.”
It is a measure of England’s growing confidence that they feel emboldened to take the field without Anderson’s knowhow and experience, not to mention his 565 Test scalps, though few stand-ins in history can have boasted more than Broad’s tally of 433.
Broad, who has impressed with an exemplary attitude after being left out for the just the second time in a decade, will be hoping for a more responsive surface for his comeback match but Anderson’s early assessment after seeing the track at Sinhalese Sports Club offered minimal encouragement.
“It’s turning square, there’s no pace in the pitch and you don’t feel the nicks really carry,” Anderson added.
“There’s not been much carry and not much reverse-swing. So when you’re not getting lateral movement in the air and nothing off the pitch, you feel a bit like a bowling machine.
“I can’t imagine there’ll be too much reverse-swing this week either. So you come out here thinking that’s one weapon you can use but it hasn’t worked out that way.
“But he doesn’t need it, he’ll just go out there and enjoy himself.”
England could be forced into a second change, with Sam Curran highly unlikely to be risked.
Sam Curran doing fitness work away from the nets today. Still a doubt for the third Test. pic.twitter.com/qadx56mTjN— Rory Dollard (@thervd) November 21, 2018
He suffered a side strain midway through the second Test and was doing fitness work while his team-mates netted on Wednesday morning.
Chris Woakes is the closest available replacement as a seam-bowling all-rounder, while there could be a temptation to blood uncapped pace prospect Olly Stone.
Jonny Bairstow is also angling for a recall after ankle problems, though England would need to rebalance the batting order and up Ben Stokes’ workload with the ball to accommodate his return.