India v England Tests
Anderson's return boosts England
England fast bowler set to play a part in India Test series after long injury layoff
5 November 2016, 05:46 PM AEST
Spearhead James Anderson will join England's tour of India before the first Test in Rajkot.
Anderson has satisfied England's medical staff, through a series of fitness tests in the past week in Loughborough, that he has sufficiently recovered from the stress fracture of the shoulder blade in his bowling arm.
However, England's leading wicket-taker will not be ready in time to join his fellow frontline seamer Stuart Broad in the latter's 100th Test, which is due to start on Wednesday.
It's more likely Anderson will have to wait until at least the third Test, scheduled to be played in Mohali at the end of November, before he's fit enough to take part in the five-match series.
The 34-year-old's arrival on Tuesday will nonetheless be a morale boost for Alastair Cook's tourists, who face a tough examination of their skill and resolution following defeat to Bangladesh in Dhaka last weekend in a drawn Test series.
Anderson, who has spent the past three months on the sidelines, is the third-ranked Test bowler in the world on the ICC rankings and has 463 wickets to his name from 119 Tests.
"It's really good news. I think he's probably about a week ahead of where we thought he would be," England skipper Alastair Cook said at his tour preview media conference.
"He's ready to come out, so it's just trying to get him out to Rajkot as quickly as we can.
"I've heard Tuesday he might be on the same flight as Straussy (England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss), we hope."
Meanwhile, England will be looking to Joe Root to play a big role in the coming series.
Root was a spectator on his maiden Test tour of India as his captain Cook and Kevin Pietersen blunted the threat of Ravi Ashwin four years ago - and now he knows it is his responsibility to repeat the feat.
The 25-year-old did not make his debut until the final Test in Nagpur in December 2012, with England already 2-1 up en route to an historic series success after back-to-back wins in Mumbai and Kolkata.
He began with a battling 73 and an unbeaten 20 as England closed out a precious stalemate.
Since then, Root has risen to the top of the International Cricket Council Test batting rankings.
He is currently sitting fourth, still averaging more than 53, yet the challenge he faces over the next six weeks is undoubtedly among his most taxing.
Ashwin failed to live up to his billing in 2012-13.
The off-spinner finished with 14 wickets at 52.64 to leave himself seventh in India's averages after Cook had reeled off three successive hundreds and Pietersen joined in with one of his finest innings in Mumbai.
The latter is long gone as far as England are concerned. Although Cook remains at the helm, the onus to provide backbone against Ashwin is shared by his deputy Root.
Ashwin showed no mercy to New Zealand as India began their season with a 3-0 whitewash victory, bagging 27 wickets and scorching to the top of the ICC team rankings.
England arrive on the back of a hapless collapse to lose a Test to Bangladesh for the first time.
And Root, therefore, needs no reminding England must be on their mettle from the outset with pitches which are again expected to favour spin.
He recalled too, though, the collective success of their last trip to India.
"We did play (Ashwin) very well," he said.
"We had a bit more experience in our batting order, and guys like Cooky played extremely well throughout that whole series."
Root knows a balance between self-belief and realism will serve England best, especially after their descent to 164 all out and defeat by 108 runs to the Tigers last weekend.
"You'd be foolish to look too far into it on that surface, but if we completely wrote it off it would be a bit naive," he said.
"The lads are very keen to make sure we learn the lessons of that mad hour-and-a-half, but at the same time understand it's a completely new challenge, new surfaces - and we played some really good cricket over there as well as that (collapse)."
He does not agree that England could begin their India tour scarred by the Dhaka debacle, but accepts they have a point to prove.
"I wouldn't say scarred ... over the course of the last few Test matches you've seen out in India there have been some good scores ... so there's no excuse,” he said.
"If the surfaces do allow, we should try and put India under pressure with big scores."