Anderson to miss final Ashes Test after failing to recover

Julian Guyer 20/08/2015
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Unavailable: Anderson.

England fast bowler James Anderson will miss the fifth and final Ashes Test against Australia as he has failed to recover fully from a side strain, captain Alastair Cook revealed.

Anderson, who suffered the injury in the third Test at Edgbaston, was still around a week away from full fitness, added Cook. He only returned to bowl in the nets on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, he’s not going to make it,” Cook said. “He’s gutted about it. He’s made really good progress from where he was at Edgbaston but this is a week or so too soon. He bowled in the nets yesterday but at about 60-70 per cent and that’s not how you go into a game. He’s really gutted. The medical team have been brilliant with him but he’s still about a week away.”

England have already won the Ashes at 3-1 up with just the Oval Test to come. Cook, who added England would field a team unchanged from the one that played in the fourth Test barring a late injury, said leaving Anderson out had been made easier by the fact the Ashes had already been regained.

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“Jimmy’s not fit,” he said. “As much hard work as he has put in, he’s not right. It’s a hard question to answer, if it was 2-2, but the way Mark (Wood) has come in and bowled in the series, certainly in the first game and the last game, we have options. Especially with Liam Plunkett as well, we have good strength in depth.”

There had been speculation that Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid might make his Test debut at The Oval ahead of tours of the UAE and South Africa later this year. But Cook said the only consideration for England in selection was picking a side to win the series 4-1.

He said: “We come into this game trying to win this series 4-1. Adil has been with us in every single squad but the pitches haven’t quite suited two spinners so he has to wait for his chance.”

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Alastair Cook hails Joe Root's remarkable batting progress

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In form: Joe Root.

England captain Alastair Cook has never seen a player improve as much in a short space of time as star batsman Joe Root.

The 24-year-old Yorkshireman, regarded as a captain in waiting, has scored England’s only two hundreds of the ongoing Ashes series to help put his side an unbeatable 3-1 up against Australia heading into the Oval Test.

Such has been Root’s form during the past two months, he has displaced Australia’s Steven Smith at the top of the International Cricket Council’s Test batting rankings, with England paceman Stuart Broad now his main rival for man-of-the-series honours in the Ashes.

– INTERVIEW: Anwar Ali on plotting a permanent Pakistan place
– FEATURE: How Bangladesh are building to take on cricket’s elite
– Viv Richards – Clarke should not be remembered for Ashes loss
– #360stats: A history of the Test rivalry between Sri Lanka & India

“He’s improved leaps and bounds,” opening batsman Cook said of Root, who has often come to the crease after a top-order collapse. “I’ve never seen a player improve like that.”

Cook said Root’s style was similar to that of New Zealand rising star Kane Williamson, who has also played for Yorkshire and was lauded earlier this season by the county’s former England opening batsman Geoffrey Boycott as someone good enough to have played on uncovered pitches.

“It reminds me a little bit of Kane Williamson. Those two are very classical players… you watch them play a Twenty20 knock or in a Test match and they’re still doing very similar things. That’s a huge credit to Joe. It’s a pleasure to watch him.”

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Stuart Binny in India's selection plans for 2nd Test

Sudhir Gupta 20/08/2015
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Batting talent: Binny.

The crucial second Test between Sri Lanka and India will be played at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo and with the wicket sporting a fair amount of grass, fast bowlers are expected to play a big role.

The hosts took a 1-0 lead in the series following their come-from-behind 63-run victory in the first Test in Galle and the onus is on India to take the initiative.

For India, the performance of spinner Harbhajan Singh left a lot to be desired as he picked up a solitary wicket on a Galle pitch that offered a lot of help to the slow bowlers.

With the team insisting on fielding five bowlers, captain Virat Kohli said that there is every possibility seam bowling all-rounder Stuart Binny will be given a chance to showcase his skills.

“We have got Stuart Binny because his bowling gives us balance. His batting at number six will help us too. We will look at the wicket tomorrow. But I feel that even if you don’t have five full-time bowlers, the fifth has to be one who can bowl 10-15 overs. It is very helpful in certain situations,” Kohli said.

“Bringing in Stuart gives us the option of a third seamer. You need to make a call on the bowling attack thinking how the wicket will turn out during the course of the game. You just can’t get excited on the first day of play about a certain combination and then feel like maybe you should have played someone else. These things need to be looked at and we will keep our options open.”

Kohli said he had faith in the 31-year-old Binny’s abilities and said that he needs a little confidence under his belt to get going.

“I saw him bat in Zimbabwe and I have seen him bat in England Once he gains in confidence he is a pretty solid batsman. He has good technique as well. If the wicket is a bit helpful or you need control through the innings, Stuart comes handy in those situations. So I think he brings a lot to the table and it is about him getting more confidence in his abilities. 

– INTERVIEW: Anwar Ali on plotting a permanent Pakistan place
– FEATURE: How Bangladesh are building to take on cricket’s elite
– Viv Richards – Clarke should not be remembered for Ashes loss
– #360stats: A history of the Test rivalry between Sri Lanka & India

“As a batsman I think he has become more confident. As a bowler I think he will certainly improve with more games that he plays and the more he is given those spells.”

India are struggling to replace in-form opener Shikhar Dhawan, a century-maker in Galle who suffered a hairline fracture in his right hand during the match and has been ruled out of the series.

However, fellow opener Murali Vijay, nursing a hamstring injury, is expected to be fit for the second Test as he batted for a long while in the nets. Kohli was hopeful that the opener will make it to the playing XI.

“His rehab programme is going well under Patrick Farhart who is our new physio. Hopefully, he is fully fit. If he wants to play and is keen then I am sure he can go through whatever discomfort he might have to go through. We will have to take that call but we are pretty certain that he is going to play on Thursday,” said Kohli.

The skipper added that his team is capable of recovering from the shock defeat in the first Test where the Indians took a 192-run lead and reduced Sri Lanka 95-5 before losing the Test.

“We definitely have it in us to bounce back. There is no point thinking about or living in the past. More often than not, if you dominate six sessions, it means that you are on top in the Test match and you should be able to win the game but that wasn’t the case,” Kohli said.

“But the preparation has been pretty good for this Test. This is a learning curve, and the guys will learn how to get over defeats and prepare for the next one. The good thing is everyone is hungry. The guys understood that things need to be forgotten and they were pretty professional,” he said.

India have come close to wins abroad on numerous occasions over the past few seasons, but have only managed one win – at Lord’s last year.

“It is a very strange thing to explain. Some things are not in your control and that is where mental strength comes in. That is one aspect that we have touched upon. The guys need to be brave.” 

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