Fast bowler James Anderson could return to spearhead the England pace attack against India in the second Test of five-match series at Visakhapatnam after he was cleared to join his team-mates, visiting captain Alastair Cook said on Saturday.
“(It’s) really good news about Anderson. He has worked hard to get back. He’s got the all clear. Just chatted with him yesterday and the day before. (Him playing in the) second Test (at Vizag) is a good possibility. We will know more after seeing how his body reacts,” said Cook at his first media meet here after landing in India three days ago with his team.
According to England and Wales Cricket Board’s website, Anderson, who had done well against India in the past, is set to reach Rajkot — venue of the first Test commencing on November 9 — on Tuesday, but will not take part in the series opener. The second Test starts from November 17 in the port city of Visakhapatnam.
“James Anderson will join England’s Test squad in India next week, and is increasingly hopeful of playing a significant part in the five-match series after making encouraging progress in his recovery from a shoulder injury,” according to the ECB website.
34-year-old Anderson, England’s highest Test wicket-taker (463), missed the drawn (1-1) series in Bangladesh prior to the team’s arrival here because of a stress fracture in his right shoulder. He has not played since against Pakistan at the Oval in mid-August.
“But he has been steadily rebuilding his fitness, confidence and pace over the last two weeks by bowling on the grass surface in the heated marquee outside the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough, and was cleared to head to India to complete his recovery after a final test on Friday morning,” the website said.
“Anderson is set to arrive in Rajkot on Tuesday, ahead of England’s first ever Test in the Gujarat city. That would obviously be too late for him to be considered for the first Test at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, but his early arrival will allow him to begin acclimatising to subcontinental conditions, as well as training with his team-mates and working with the England coaching staff on the tour,” it added.
Cook said the vast experience Anderson has of Indian conditions will be very handy.
“His experience of these conditions and the number of wickets he has got in all types of conditions will only help the other guys.”
Asked about lack of match practice for the 119-Test veteran as he heads to India straightaway to take part in a gruelling series, Cook conceded it was not a perfect scenario.
“It’s certainly not ideal. But he’s well aware of the challenge. He needs to get some overs and get some miles in his legs,” said the England opener.
Team’s head coach Trevor Bayliss also felt Anderson’s arrival will boost the team.
“To get anyone back with that experience and that many wickets will be very good for everyone. He has the experience of bowling in these conditions,” said Bayliss.
For the record, Anderson has toured India in 2006, 2008 and 2012 to play Test matches and he has taken 22 wickets in seven games combined during those visits at an average of 29.81, as against his career average of 28.28 per victim.
He grabbed 12 wickets in four Tests in England’s previous tour when they bounced back after losing the opening Test and defeated India 2-1.