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England bowlers rested from county matches

Andrew McGlashan
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Steven Finn is one of the England bowlers rested ahead of the South Africa series © Getty Images
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None of the bowlers likely to make up England's attack for the first Test against South Africa will play first-class cricket before the series, having been rested for this week's round of County Championship matches following the one-day series against Australia.

James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann are unavailable for their counties, who all start four-day matches on Wednesday - roughly 12 hours after the end of the final NatWest Series tie at Old Trafford.

England's concerns lie primarily with Swann, who was rested for the final two ODIs against Australia to nurse a troublesome elbow, and Bresnan, who sat out the last match, also with an elbow niggle.

The management's decision means that the only bowler playing county cricket this week who is in the shake-up for a Test slot is Durham's Graham Onions who is currently in action against Worcestershire. He appeared in England's most recent Test, against West Indies at Edgbaston, when Broad and Anderson were rested.

Anderson was troubled by a groin injury during the Australia series and missed the second match at The Oval, while Broad and Finn played the four games that were possible. Bresnan is currently in possession of a Test place but Finn, who also played against West Indies last month, will push him close after taking eight wickets at 19.37 in the one-day matches against Australia including 4 for 37 at Chester-le-Street.

Rest has also been prescribed for some of the batsmen, with England's ODI captain, Alastair Cook, and Ravi Bopara, who is favoured for a Test recall to replace Jonny Bairstow, not available for Essex's Championship match against Gloucestershire, although Bopara can play the CB40 match that follows on Sunday.

Jonathan Trott has been given the week off whereas Ian Bell, his Warwickshire team-mate, does play against Sussex at Edgbaston. Earlier this season Bell was eager to play as much cricket as possible after a lean winter and appeared for England Lions against the West Indians.

England's Test specialists - Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior and, these days, Kevin Pietersen - will all play a Championship match as expected. Strauss will face Nottinghamshire (minus Broad and Swann) at Uxbridge, Prior has a match against Warwickshire and Pietersen will face Lancashire - but not Anderson - for Surrey at Guildford. For Strauss it will be his first competitive outing since the final Test against West Indies.

Eoin Morgan, who is unlikely to be in the Test thinking, sits out Middlesex's match, which means he will not need to make a late-night dash south after the ODI.

The time span of 12 hours between a floodlit match at Old Trafford and the Championship matches, largely in the south, also swayed the selectors' thinking about the fast bowlers. Quite why the quirk in the fixture list was allowed is something England are unlikely to discuss.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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