England news August 17, 2011

Anderson winning fitness race


James Anderson appears to winning his battle for fitness ahead of the fourth and final Test against India at The Oval on Thursday, after taking a significant part in Wednesday's practice session. England's captain, Andrew Strauss, said he was "very optimistic" that Anderson would be available for selection, but said that a final decision on his right quadriceps strain would be taken on the morning of the game.

Anderson, who tore through India's top order with each of the first four wickets to fall in their second innings at Edgbaston, has 18 wickets in the series to date and has risen to No. 2 in the world rankings. However, he complained of stiffness in his thigh after the Edgbaston match, and the Durham paceman, Graham Onions, was called into the squad as cover.

Given how valuable Anderson has become as their attack leader, England have already demonstrated a desire to treat him cautiously this summer. He missed the second Test against Sri Lanka earlier in the season as a precaution, having sustained a side strain midway through the opening Test of the summer at Cardiff.

This time, however, Strauss seems happier that his star bowler is ready for action. "We are very optimistic he's fit to play," he said. "He had a good bowl today, but like all these things we have to check how he comes up tomorrow morning. It just seems nothing more than a little niggle at this stage.

"We've set a precedent of resting players in the past and I think it's sensible at times to be able to do that, because of the hectic nature of the international schedule and you don't want bowlers breaking down for important series," he added. "But we will only be resting players if we're absolutely sure they need a rest."

Anderson's team-mate, Graeme Swann, took a similarly optimistic view when the squad reconvened for practice on Tuesday morning. "I honestly didn't know he was injured until he told me this morning that he's not going to play," said Swann. "I'm sure once he gets running around, he'll want to play because I know how well he's bowling at the minute. I know Jimmy. When he's doing well, he's hungry for the ball and he just wants to keep going. It's when he's not doing so well, he's more than happy for a week off."

If Anderson is not passed fit, England will have to choose between Onions and Steven Finn, after Chris Tremlett was once again ruled out by the back injury he sustained prior to the second Test at Trent Bridge. It was notable that England's bowlers were below-par in the one match that Anderson missed, against Sri Lanka at Lord's, and Strauss admitted that, even with their current fast-bowling resources, he is one player they would rather not do without.

"He's been very much the leader of our attack for the last couple of years and he's been outstanding in that role," said Strauss. "But we've had to deal with Stuart Broad being injured, Chris Tremlett being injured and people have come in and done well and that's always the challenge for you as a side - to make sure you've got the strength in depth to be able to mitigate against any sort of injury. If and when we have to deal with that, we'll deal with it.

"He's very important, not just for the tone he sets but for his relationship with the other bowlers," Strauss added. "But you can't rely on one person. That's one of the things that we've been good at: we've not relied on one or two people to win us a Test match. We've had performances from all 11 and when we're missing a player it's important the guy coming in can fill that role."

"I think [Jimmy] would be a huge loss, like any of the seamers, but we thought that with Tremlett when he couldn't play at Trent Bridge," said Swann. "Up stepped Bressie [Tim Bresnan] and he's been unbelievable in the two games he's played. We have got vast stocks of fast bowlers at the minute. I'm not sure where they've all come from, but it's nice for us they have all arrived at the same time, because you can never have enough big fast bowlers."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sudharsan on August 18, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    Swann is the spoke's person of the team. His wickets column didn't speak at all in this series. ENG pacemen hunted India before he came to bowl. But what about his econmy?, Taking a mountain tour! So there is a big silence all over who have said that SWANN as no.1 spinner in the world. May be bhajji doesn't deserve the place.

  • Don on August 18, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    Well if Anderson is not fit England could bowl Mr Blobby as third seamer unless India inject some will to win into the game!

  • Siddharth on August 18, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    we have lost complete hope..downhill seems much faster for india than uphill ride..

  • Al on August 18, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    I hope Andersson plays. He has been fantastic for England for some considerable time now. Having said that I dont think it really matters anymore now that the series has been won unless England want to rub it in They have all the right to!) and white wash the Indians. Dont think India will/can offer much more...They are a demoralised side but one never knows in cricket, beautiful cricket....

  • Thyagarajan on August 18, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    @Yabba: What do you mean England was a different team when they toured India last time? We cannot say India is a different team today and so they lost. Loss is a loss and be it India of today or yesterday, it is India which has lost. The same goes with England, they simply lost last time when they toured India.

    @Will Murray: Arrogance? You can take a call on who is arrogant when you call others arrogant. My statement was a general statement. There will be exceptions and one such exception is when India toured England last time. India Beat England? Didn't they? In fact, even within the sub-continent, it is very difficult to beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka even if the opponent is India.

  • S on August 18, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    Let's hope both Anderson and Praveen regain fitness, and the Indian batting finally shows the much-needed fight.

  • Sankar on August 18, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    I fail to understand why people can't see what so plain to see - England deserve the No1 ranking now because their results prove it. India deserved its No.1 status till before this series, because they had the results to show for it. Its only the blind who say India were on top based on results at home, they did win in NZ, WI and draw in SA. And they won the last series in England as well. Aus and SL is the only place they didnt wiin. Yes, this is not as impressive as the dominant aussie team, but to say they were not truly No.1 does a great disservice to what they achieved. By the same token, England hasn't won anything in the subcontinent and as impressive as their team looks right now, they still need to go and do it. I still think they are No.1 now in the world though. A little bit of fairness in observation will help most of my fellow posters to see through plain glasses instead of the obviously colored ones.

  • Randolph on August 17, 2011, 22:34 GMT

    @TheKingofSpain, it's great to see a pom with his feet on the ground. Like my English mates you are confident (rightly so) without turning into a bumbling idiot. Good luck within the next year, it certainly will be very interesting. The English bowling depth will hold them in good stead.

  • Randolph on August 17, 2011, 22:30 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding, those grapes nice and sour??? Bet if you'd have won 3 world cups in a row your tune would be very different!

  • Amit on August 17, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    There seems a running theme here "To be a 'true' no. 1 you need to win away from home". Seems strange given India have basically never managed to win series in Aus or SA yet I didn't notice many Indian fans handing back the no. 1 mantle then. It sometimes hard to be an India fan when there is so much wilful ignorance on show.

    The rankings are based over a long-ish period - which means that all freak results (like the fact that England lost their last series in the West Indies for example) get evened out. India were no. 1 for almost two years - well done them. They have been rightly and deservedly deposed by England - we should all have enough grace to congratulate them too. This hasn't been a close run thing - England have now given Australia and India a good-old fashioned beating.

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