Anderson defends fitness record
England will be without their leading wicket-taker, James Anderson, for the first Test against India next month.
Anderson has already been ruled out of the tour to Bangladesh due to a stress fracture in his left shoulder and now England captain, Alastair Cook, has revealed he will not be ready for the opening match in Rajkot which starts on November 9.
“He won’t be ready for the first Test match,” Cook said ahead of the opening Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong. “He might be ready to do some training, but he won’t be ready for the first Test. A decision will be made on when he comes out over the next week or so.”
With little more than a week between the end of the Bangladesh series and the start of the one in India, England had planned for Anderson to join the squad in Bangladesh. That decision will now be reviewed, with Cook non-committal about when Anderson could return.
“I spoke to him last night and he is training well and in good shape physically,” Cook said. “But he hasn’t yet bowled and that has been the problem in the past. However physically well he’s been in the rest of his body, it’s when he starts bowling [that the problem occurs].”
While Anderson’s long-term injury record is excellent – he did not miss a Test through injury from 2011 (he was rested from dead-rubber Test against West Indies at Edgbaston in 2012) to the middle of 2015 – there will be a concern that, aged 34 and with 119 Tests behind him, the miles on the clock are starting to show.
Even before the first Test in India, Anderson will have missed six of England’s most recent 18 Tests in less than 18-months (two against Australia with a side strain, two against Bangladesh with this shoulder problem and one each against Pakistan – also shoulder related – and South Africa with a calf strain). It was also noticeable in South Africa that it took him a little longer to regain full pace than had been the case previously.
England would still dearly love to have him available in India. He was described as “the difference between the sides” by MS Dhoni after England won in India in 2012 and showed in the UAE a year ago – when he averaged 15.61 and conceded 1.87 runs per over – that he retains the skills and control to be an asset to his side whatever the conditions.
But they will not risk rushing him back. While the selectors were criticised in some quarters for delaying Anderson’s return in the Pakistan series, it now seems he returned a little early: he first felt pain from the shoulder during the Sri Lanka series.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo