Mark Butcher, speaking on ESPNcricinfo’s Switch Hit podcast, expressed his belief that James Anderson would be lucky to get a spot in the England XI for the first Test of the three-match series against West Indies.
The hosts announced a 13-strong squad for the first Test, which starts on Wednesday. The squad included five fast bowlers – Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Anderson himself – three of whom are expected to make the final cut.
Anderson hasn’t played any cricket for over six months now, with his last Test coming against South Africa in January, and Butcher believed it would be a gamble to pick him in the XI for the first Test, given injury concerns – he was ruled out after the first two Tests of the series in South Africa, five months after being sidelined from the Ashes due to a calf issue.
“I think Jimmy would find himself fortunate to walk straight back into the side,” he said. “That’s what I think. It was right that he started in South Africa, because of who he is, because of his reputation, because he is bloody magnificent.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 6, 2020
“But he lasted a Test match and an innings really there, having limped out the first morning of the Ashes series, and he is 37. And again, he has played no cricket. How he would be able to convince me as a captain, the selectors and the management that it is not a gamble to pick him for a five-day Test match when there are all these young fellas, fit as a butcher’s dog lining up behind him. That’s an interesting conversation.
“If he were 28, you wouldn’t even bat an eyelid but he is not. He is 10 years older [Anderson turns 38 later this month] than that. He is another one for whom no cricket at all has not done any favour because I would be inclined to back the guys who did the job for me in tough circumstances in South Africa.”