Nasser Hussain believes England's selectors were right to rest James Anderson for the third and final Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston and insists the fast bowler will be ready to face South Africa later this summer.
England, already 2-0 up in a three-match series, are expected to hand starts to reserve seamers Steven Finn and Graham Onions ahead of a busy July and August.
And former England captain Hussain insists Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower's decision to omit Anderson for the dead-rubber Test is entirely justified, as the Lancashire bowler enters his peak.
"It's all very well the old-timers saying these guys just need to keep bowling to stay fit, or arguing that fans who pay good money to support England are being deprived of watching the very best," Hussain told the Daily Mail.
"But the game's so much more intense than it used to be. And if England bowl Anderson into the ground and force him to retire in his early 30s, won't that be depriving future generations even more?"
Anderson has taken 14 wickets at a shade over 21 runs apiece in the series to date and Hussain warned England not to overuse the 29-year-old if they hoped to coax the best out of him in the coming years.
"Anderson is a gem, and England need to look after him as carefully as they can. He turns 30 this month, which means he is at his peak as a fast bowler," said Hussain.
"The last thing England want to do is overuse Anderson so that he loses his nip and has to retire early.
"Just look at recent history - Dean Headley played his last Test at 29, Angus Fraser at 33, Darren Gough at 32, and Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff at 31.
"England owe it both to Anderson and the fans to keep him going for longer."
Although England have included Stuart Broad in the 12-man squad, Anderson's new-ball partner and England's Twenty20 captain could be rested as well if England decide to play both Finn and Onion.
"It's a possibility he might miss out," Strauss said. "When it comes down to selecting a side we do it in the morning (of the match)."
Finn, who has 53 wickets in 13 Tests, and Onions, with 28 in eight, have had to wait patiently for their chance this series and Strauss said: "They have both been chomping at the bit.
"It speaks volumes for them the way they have reacted to not playing, and also speaks volumes for the strength in depth we've got in our seam bowling resources that guys of that quality are sitting out.
"One of them will get the opportunity at least and I'm sure whoever gets it will be keen to take it."