Corey Anderson's standard refrain for every question thrown at him is, 'It's one of those things'. Long injury-enforced lay-off? It's one of those things. Playing as a specialist batsman? It's one of those things. It may seem he is playing down an injury that has kept him out of competitive cricket for more than six months, but Anderson is aware he needs to ease himself into the grind ahead of a packed calendar where New Zealand are scheduled to play 24 matches from now until March next year.
The New Zealand allrounder has been unlucky with injuries since he suffered a fractured finger during the IPL last year. That was followed by a stress-related back injury that first cut his England tour short in June last year. The injury recurred at the end of the World T20 in India, and ruled him out of tours to Zimbabwe and South Africa. He admitted coping with the recurrence of the injury was "reasonably tough", but the break was necessary.
"It's one of those things... you have a decent chunk out [with injury] and you don't really want to sit out again. But I had to do it. It's part of the game, you have injuries," he said. "Doing that gives you time to reflect on things and see where you can get better. I've been basically working to get my fitness and strength up and not have a date in mind. It's just exciting to be back with the group and back in India."
New Zealand's team management has tried to ensure there were no half measures during the course of Anderson's recovery. "We started right back from the base level and we just built him up there slow," Chris Donaldson, the team's strength and conditioning coach, told ESPNcricinfo. "We have taken time with him. This started four-five months ago and he has worked incredibly hard. He has worked in conjunction with the high performance group [staff] . There has been overall work in progress and building him. He has really been brilliant to come back to this level."
While workload-management is the thinking behind New Zealand playing him as a pure batsman in the ODIs against India, Anderson had a bowl during the team's net at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala and even appeared to operate at full tilt towards the end of the session. Anderson, however, made it clear he was in no hurry to resume bowling. "I am slowly working on my bowling in the background. I think that's one of those things that… no, there is no timeframe," he said. "[It is] very similar to what the injury was in the first place. [It is about] just letting it take its time and when it's ready, it's ready. It is pointless pushing myself with such a big summer in front of us.
"I know it's India, I'd love to be doing everything. I don't know if there is enough time on this tour potentially, but it's just one of those things that I am focusing on my batting. That will be my main job."
Anderson is expected to slot into the middle order with Luke Ronchi and James Neesham for company. Their job description, according to him, involved shifting seamlessly between consolidation and attack. "In the middle order you have got to be able to adapt. If you lose early wickets, you are going to be able to try and take your team deep," Anderson said. "If you get in with not many overs left, then you are going to have to start going from ball one. It's an adaptable position and I have obviously been preparing for that.
"We have got a lot of guys in the team who can do a lot of things, which is great - some of the guys in the top order can also bowl."