Zaman bound for Somerset as Anderson bows to stress fracture

Fakhar Zaman exults after reaching his century AFP

Fakhar Zaman, the freewheeling Pakistan opening batsman who shot to prominence with a matchwinning century against India in the final of the Champions Trophy at The Oval in June, is returning to England to join Somerset until the end of the season.

Zaman gets his chance because Corey Anderson will be returning to New Zealand immediately to undergo treatment for a stress fracture to his back and he will therefore play no further part in Somerset's NatWest T20 Blast competition. He will also play in four-day Championship matches.

Zaman's brand of hitting will be eagerly awaited in Taunton as they attempt to reach Finals Day in the Blast, but it could have all gone wrong for him in the Champions Trophy final. He was so ill the night before the match that the team doctor kept an eye on him for most of the night and he was caught on 3 off a no-ball by Jasprit Bumrah.

Anderson hit 81 on debut for Somerset in defeat against Surrey at Kia Oval, and the county pleaded a stiff back after a flight as the reason he did not bowl. But he did not bowl a ball in his four matches and has now returned home to address the problem.

He leaves Somerset in second place in South Group but they have played a game more than many of their rivals.

Matt Maynard, Somerset's director of cricket, said: "It's disappointing that Corey has had to return to New Zealand, particularly in light of what he has achieved during his short time with us. During his time here Corey has soldiered on bravely and managed his ongoing stress fracture well but now it needs immediate treatment.

"We have really enjoyed having him around and he has made a positive contribution both on and off the field at the Club. Hopefully we will see him again in Taunton in the future."

Anderson said: "I am grateful to Somerset for giving me an opportunity to play cricket in England and only sorry that I have been unable to conclude my stay with them. However I hope that at some point in the future when my back problem has been resolved that I will be able to return."

He suffered a double stress fracture two years ago during New Zealand's Test against England at Lord's, which caused an eight-month absence from international cricket. Since then, he has only taken more than two wickets in an innings once in international cricket when he returned 3 for 55 against England in Cardiff in June.

Zaman has limited T20 experience and, as such, represents a bit of a punt by Somerset. At 27, he has appeared in four ODIs, scoring 252 runs at an average of 63, and has also played in three T20Is in which he averages 13.

He will join Somerset as soon as his visa is granted and will be available for selection from then on.

Maynard said: "It's great to have Fakhar joining us and in addition we will have Dean Elgar back for the final three NatWest T20 Blast group stage games."

Elgar, though, will play no more Championship cricket for Somerset as they attempt to make a late escape from relegation. He has to return to South Africa for a camp prior to South Africa's series against Bangladesh.

That leaves Somerset also reliant on Zaman for the remainder of their Championship season. If he treats four-day cricket in the same uninhibited style, Somerset, lying eighth, 30 points from safety with six matches remaining, will not be blocking as they attempt to preserve their Division One future. But he should not be lightly dismissed in this format as a first-class average of 61 testifies.

Zaman has been feted in his home town of Katlang since his feat in the Champions Trophy final, and he has attempted to keep his feet on the ground by trusting to the advice from the Pakistan great, Younis Khan, who told him that "fame is only an illusion" and that it could destroy him.

He will be famous in the Somerset market town of Taunton if he helps them win the Blast and stay up in the Championship. The sort of fame, however, which very rarely threatens to wreak havoc on a person's soul.