James Anderson will be cast in to the role of frustrated onlooker for this week’s third Test against West Indies after the England selectors opted to rest him for the dead rubber at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
Anderson’s exclusion had been expected after England had hinted at a desire to rotate their seamers amid a busy summer schedule.
With England’s No 1 Test status on the line in the three-Test series against South Africa from next month, and limited-overs series against the West Indies and Australia to come before then, Anderson has been put in cotton wool.
It is a scenario the 29-year-old said he would not be happy with before an otherwise unchanged 12-man squad was announced on Sunday.
Anderson declared himself fully fit to play, undermining suggestions he had struggled with a quad strain during the series-clinching nine-wicket win at Trent Bridge in Nottingham last week, and claimed he had already had enough rest time between matches.
"It would be extremely disappointing for me to miss out," he told the Mail on Sunday. "It would be different if I felt fatigued or was struggling with an injury. But I believe I am fit to play and while I am fit to play I want to play in every England game I can.
“Resting players is going to happen more and more often as the schedule gets busier and the ECB has been excellent at monitoring players to keep them fit and ready.
“Sure, this series has been hard work, back-to-back Tests always are; that’s what we are used to and have to deal with the world over. But five days of rest is more than enough to be ready to play again.
“This winter, I was rested for the one-day series in India, Steve Finn bowled out of his skin and kept his place for the one-dayers in Dubai.
“Had Tim Bresnan not been injured for those, would I have got my place back?”
Anderson has missed just one of England’s past 25 Tests, since he was rested for the 2010 tour of Bangladesh, and as the leader of the attack has inspired his side’s rise to the top Test ranking.
But despite his apparent protests, Geoff Miller, the national selector, said his omission had been made in his “best interests”.
“James Anderson will miss this Test as we look to manage his workload ahead of a busy period of cricket this summer and beyond, a decision which is in the best interests of the team and James himself,” he said.
“We have been made to work hard for our two victories so far and are delighted to have secured the series. However we know that we will need to continue to play some good cricket if we want a third win against the West Indies this week.”
A depth in talent in the fast bowling stocks has ensured England will remain firm favourites to continue their winning ways at Edgbaston, with either Steven Finn or Graham Onions to step into the team.
Both understudies could yet be called into action, though, with England to decide on whether to also give Stuart Broad time off.