James Anderson might find conditions more to his liking as he bids to join Test cricket’s 700 club when England regroup for their final assignment of the tour of India next week.

England expect Anderson to be available for the fifth Test in Dharamsala, starting on Thursday, despite a sore thigh which limited his involvement on the last day of their five-wicket defeat in Ranchi.

India’s unassailable 3-1 series advantage leaves only pride and World Test Championship points at stake, but one sub-plot centres on England’s record wicket-taker Anderson.

The evergreen 41-year-old has advanced his tally from 690 to 698 in three outings in India, offering England his customary control on slow, low turners that have largely neutralised his wicket-taking threat.

But his attempt to become the third individual, after Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan and the late Australian Shane Warne, and first fast bowler to reach 700 Test wickets could be aided in Dharamsala.

The HPCA Stadium in the foothills of the Himalayas is renowned as the best venue for seamers in India and is where the national team often goes to train in preparation for tours of England and Australia.

Temperatures in the area have struggled to get into double figures recently and, although the weather is forecast to improve next week, it is unlikely the mercury will get much above 15 degrees Celsius.

Local officials expect the crisp English-like conditions to play into Anderson’s hands, while a recall for express speedster Mark Wood is also on the cards, with the pitch expected to offer pace and bounce.

If Anderson’s quad injury turns out to be more serious, England could hand Gus Atkinson his Test debut, with Ollie Robinson poised to make way after his unflattering return to competitive action in Ranchi. Ben Stokes could supplement the pace bowlers after stepping up his workload in training recently.

There was plenty of carry and consistent movement seven years ago when the Dharamsala venue staged its only Test as India beat Australia, 18 of 30 wickets from bowlers falling to the spinners.

England are therefore likely to stick with Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir as their frontline spin options.

The ground was due to hold another India-Australia contest 12 months ago, but poor outfield conditions led to the Test being shifted to Indore, while the issue reared its head again at last year’s World Cup.

England’s players were cautious about diving in the outfield ahead of a group game against Bangladesh because of the uneven grass coverage and a sandy make-up, leading Jos Buttler to suggest the “integrity of the game” could be compromised.

However, a new drainage system has been installed in an effort to resolve the problem and officials are confident there will be no complaints this time from England, who are due to reassemble as a group on Monday.

Many of the squad are currently in Bangalore on a golfing trip, while Stokes, Wood, Bashir and Ben Foakes, plus the non-golfing members of the backroom staff, are in Chandigarh.

Shoaib Bashir claimed three top-order wickets but England were again met with resistance from in-form India opener Yashasvi Jaiswal in Ranchi.

Joe Root (122 not out) and Ollie Robinson (58) helped England add 51 to an overnight 302 for seven but they lost their last three wickets for six runs in 17 balls on the second morning of the fourth Test.

James Anderson snared Rohit Sharma to move to within three of 700 Test wickets before the recalled Bashir trapped Shubman Gill and Rajat Patidar lbw and had Ravindra Jadeja caught bat-pad as India went to tea on 131 for four.

Jaiswal (54 not out) was immovable on a pitch which, despite the odd delivery keeping low, was devoid of the gremlins that had given England’s top-order major problems 24 hours earlier.

Robinson, in his first competitive appearance since July, twice drew the edge of Jaiswal but the ball bounced short of Zak Crawley then Ben Stokes, the latter much to England’s obvious chagrin.

Anderson made the breakthrough in his second over, getting one to hold its line and kiss Rohit’s outside edge on the way through to Ben Foakes, but while Robinson did likewise to Jaiswal, the ball dropped in front of a diving Crawley at second slip before scurrying away for the opener’s first four.

Robinson was memorably chided during the Ashes for bowling “124kph (77mph) nude nuts” by former Australia opener Matthew Hayden and the seamer did not do much to shed the tag as he operated in the mid-70mph range.

But he engaged in a fascinating tussle with Jaiswal, who pushed at a wider delivery after lunch and Foakes dived forward to take the edge, only for third umpire Joel Wilson to rule the ball had bounced.

England celebrated before the ‘not out’ verdict was returned on the two big screens and England were momentarily stunned, with captain Ben Stokes cupping his hands to his mouth in shock.

At the other end, Bashir was probing away and while he was dumped back over his head for six by Jaiswal, the off-spinner, in just his second Test, extracted some turn to beat both Gill (38) and Patidar (12) on the inside edge and gain leg-before verdicts.

Tom Hartley was not introduced until the 32nd over and was thumped for back-to-back sixes by Ravindra Jadeja, who was the undone by extra bounce from Bashir and popped a catch to Ollie Pope at short leg.

Earlier, India took the new ball after two deliveries but the hosts could not capitalise as Robinson collected three fours in an eventful over off Akash Deep, who beat the lower-order batter’s outside edge twice.

Robinson brought up a first Test half-century by slog-sweeping Jadeja for a ninth four, to go with one six, and stretched his stand with Root into three figures – England’s first century stand for the eighth wicket since August 2017.

But an attempted reverse sweep off Jadeja brushed Robinson’s glove on the way through to Dhruv Jurel and England’s innings unravelled quickly.

Shoaib Bashir clothed a skier to backward point while Jadeja had his and India’s third wicket of the morning when Anderson made a hash of a sweep and was lbw. Jadeja was the pick of the bowlers with four for 67.

James Anderson snared India captain Rohit Sharma after Joe Root was left stranded on 122 not out as England were all out for 353 on the second morning of the fourth Test.

Anderson kissed the outside edge of Rohit’s bat as India went to lunch on 34 for one in Ranchi after Ollie Robinson registered his maiden Test fifty in a 102-run stand with Root, who added 16 runs to his overnight score.

Robinson’s dismissal for 58 was the start of England losing their final three wickets for six runs in 17 balls, with Jadeja taking three dismissals to finish with figures of four for 67, as Root ran out of partners.

Robinson, who got away with an lbw decision off Jadeja on Friday evening because India had used all their reviews, took the attack to India’s bowlers on a pitch with very few of the demons seen on the first morning, although the odd delivery still kept low.

India took the new ball after two deliveries as England resumed on 302 for seven, but the hosts could not capitalise as Robinson took three fours in an eventful over off Akash Deep, who beat the lower-order batter’s outside edge twice.

Robinson brought up a first Test half-century by slog sweeping Jadeja for a ninth four, to go with one six, and stretched his stand with Root into three figures – England’s first century stand for the eighth wicket since August 2017.

But an attempted reverse sweep off Jadeja brushed Robinson’s glove on the way through to Dhruv Jurel and England’s innings unravelled quickly.

Shoaib Bashir clothed a skier to backward point while Jadeja had his and India’s third wicket of the morning when Anderson made a hash of a sweep and was lbw.

Ben Stokes warmed up alongside the bowlers before India had to negotiate a 45-minute period before lunch but it was Anderson and Robinson, making his first competitive appearance since last July, entrusted with the new ball.

Anderson made the breakthrough in his second over, getting one to hold its line and kiss Rohit’s outside edge.

Robinson, whose bowling was famously described as “124kph (77mph) nude nuts” in the Ashes by former Australia opener Matthew Hayden, did not touch 80mph but drew the edge of Yashasvi Jaiswal only for the ball to bounce short of Zak Crawley and disappear for four.

Robinson beat the outside edge on a couple of occasions but was then driven by Jaiswal, who has made double hundreds in his last two Tests, for his fifth four in the over before lunch.

England captain Ben Stokes downplayed his landmark appearance against India in Rajkot this week, insisting that joining the prestigious 100 Test club was “just a number”.

Stokes is set to become the 16th Englishman to three figures on Thursday a little over a decade on from his Adelaide debut, where he memorably had a testy exchange with Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

That combative nature has been a constant in a career of stratospheric highs and crushing lows, but he is naturally averse to celebrating personal milestones, as evidenced most acutely at Headingley in 2019.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ben Stokes (@stokesy)


On that occasion, Stokes barely acknowledged his hundred and only celebrated after hauling England to a famous victory and he stayed true to type when asked to talk up his 100th Test match.

“I guess it’s a sign of longevity,” he said, almost apologetically. “It’s just a number. Every Test is just as important as the next one. Then there’s the next one, which will be 101 – it’s just one more.

“I don’t want it to sound like I’m not thankful for the opportunities I’ve had. There will be a time when I can (reflect on what he has achieved) a bit more.

“But milestones and stuff like that – it’s not done until it’s done.

“While I’m still playing and wanting to achieve a lot, driving the team, giving individuals what I think is the best platform for them to be successful is where all my thoughts are at the moment.”

Another character trait that has been evident in Stokes the captain is his eagerness to roll the dice and risk defeat in pursuit of victory, largely paying off with six of the former and 14 of the latter.

He is therefore highly unlikely to find himself in the same situation Sir Alastair Cook did in England’s last visit to the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in November 2016, when the tourists received some criticism for declaring too late and setting India 310 to win in a minimum of 49 overs.

With this series deadlocked at 1-1, the temptation could be to avoid defeat at all costs after losing last time out but Stokes was having none of it.

“I don’t get that much pleasure out of a draw,” Stokes said. “I’d much rather lose trying to win. But not winning doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Everything is just aimed towards what can we do.

“Losing always sucks but we’ve lost all (six) games trying to win them. We’ll never go to the grave not knowing if we could have done something a bit different.”

Stokes’ immediate thoughts are on whether to stick with James Anderson and a trio of callow spinners or reintroduce Mark Wood and go with two specialist fast bowlers for the first time on this tour of India.

While Wood was wicketless in the win at Hyderabad and made way for Anderson in the Visakhapatnam defeat, his express pace offers an extra dimension on a pitch renowned for being batter-friendly.

“If we were to go with two seamers the reasons why we would look at Jimmy and Woody would be I just like to have a point of difference,” Stokes said. “And India is never a three-seamer option.”

Even though Jack Leach is out of the last three Tests, Stokes will stick to his pledge not to bowl in this series following surgery on a longstanding left knee injury 11 weeks ago.

Stokes, who last bowled competitively in July last year, sent down three overs in training on Tuesday morning at what he estimated was about 70 per cent intensity.

“It’s little and often now,” the 32-year-old said. “We don’t have a plan with where I go with my intensity. It’s just how I feel at the time, but also not getting too far ahead. It was another step forward.

“But I’ve pinky promised my physio I won’t be loosening up to bowl even if everything is feeling well because that would just be a risk that’s not worth it.”

Ben Stokes will become the 16th Englishman to win 100 Test caps when he captains his side in Thursday’s third Test against India.

Here, the PA news agency looks at England’s century club and Stokes’ record to date.

Century club

James Anderson will hope to add to his national-record 184 Tests in Rajkot, while team-mate Joe Root ranks fourth on the list on 137 behind Stuart Broad (167) and Sir Alastair Cook (161).

Alec Stewart, Ian Bell, Graham Gooch, David Gower, Michael Atherton, Colin Cowdrey, Sir Geoff Boycott, Kevin Pietersen, Lord Ian Botham, Sir Andrew Strauss and Graham Thorpe are England’s other centurions. Barring injury, the remainder of the India series will lift Stokes alongside Botham on 102 Tests.

Cook is England’s record Test run-scorer with 12,472, with Root just over 1,000 behind as he keeps up his pursuit, while Anderson leads the wickets column on 695.

Of those among the group to have taken more than one Test wicket, only Stokes, Botham and Root have achieved the distinction of a higher average batting than bowling.

Botham averaged 33.55 for his 5,200 runs and 28.40 for his 383 wickets – the latter figure places him third on England’s all-time wickets list behind Anderson and Broad (604).

Stokes, with over 1,000 runs more than Botham at an average nearly three runs higher at 36.34, has a strong claim as England’s greatest batting all-rounder – Root averages 49.65 with the bat but a hefty 43.88 with his off-spin.

Three more wickets, to add to his 197 at 32.07, will see Stokes join the illustrious club of 16 all-rounders to date with 3,000 runs and 200 wickets in Tests.

Broad, Botham, Andrew Flintoff and Moeen Ali have achieved that feat for England – Stokes has a better batting average than any of the quartet and will rank third in bowling average.

Setting the tone

Only 11 men have made a higher Test score for England than Stokes’ 258 against South Africa in 2016, with former captain Cook having done so on two occasions.

Coming in 198 balls at a strike rate of 130 with 30 fours and 11 sixes, it was the fastest score of 250-plus in Test history and England’s fastest double century – the next-highest England Test score recorded at over a run a ball is Zak Crawley’s 189 off 182 in last summer’s Ashes.

Stokes has 13 Test centuries in all, with four five-wicket hauls including a best of six for 22 against the West Indies in 2017.

As captain he has presided over 14 wins, six defeats and only one draw as he and coach Brendon McCullum have implemented a new aggressive style of play.

England have successfully chased five fourth-inning targets over 250 in that time, including a national-record 378 against India at Edgbaston in 2022 and three of their top eight chases of all time.

Somewhat surprisingly, that 258 is one of only two Stokes centuries at over a run a ball – he made 101 off 92 against New Zealand in 2015.

Joe Root described himself as “privileged, humbled and very excited” after being confirmed as England’s new Test captain on this day in 2017.

The then-26-year-old Yorkshire batter was handed the reins in the wake of Alastair Cook’s resignation after a 59-game tenure.

Root, who was averaging a little under 53 over 53 Tests at the time, was appointed ahead of home summer series against South Africa and the West Indies with an Ashes tour looming, on the recommendation of the selectors and the ECB’s director of England cricket Andrew Strauss.

With Ben Stokes as his vice-captain, vastly-experienced bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad at his disposal and coaches Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace behind the scenes, he set out on his mission with some optimism.

Root said at the time: “We have a very good group of players, and I’m looking forward to leading them out in the summer – building on Alastair’s achievements and making the most of our talents in the years ahead.”

The new captain was appointed with England in a state of flux, having lost a match for the first time to Bangladesh and suffered at the hands of India as Cook’s reign, which had taken his side to within a win of the top of the Test rankings, drew to a close.

In all, Root led his country out onto the field in 64 Tests and collected 27 wins before he eventually stood down from the role in April 2022.

His tenure included two depressing 4-0 Ashes defeats Down Under either side of a 2-2 draw at home, but also more encouraging series wins over India and in Sri Lanka before the coronavirus pandemic intervened.

However, he called it a day in April 2022 after a decisive 10-wicket defeat in the West Indies, with the pressure of the job weighing heavily on his shoulders.

He said: “I have loved leading my country, but recently it’s hit home how much of a toll it has taken on me and the impact it has had on me away from the game.”

James Anderson was in bullish form as England faced down a record chase of 399 in Visakhapatnam, claiming India were struck by an attack of nerves.

From an overnight score of 67 for one the tourists will be attempting not only the biggest ever pursuit by an England side but the highest ever in Indian conditions. Yet Anderson revealed their irrepressible head coach Brendon McCullum had already prepared them to take on 600.

England have been chasing the second Test ever since losing the toss on the first morning, but they are a side who truly come alive when the result is on the line and have won eight of their last 10 batting last.

When they hunted down 378 against the same opponents at Edgbaston in the summer of 2022 – the biggest ever fourth-innings pursuit by an England side – they did so with ease as unbeaten centuries from Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root delivered a thumping seven-wicket win.

And Anderson feels India’s dominant position on the scorecard masks a vulnerability, pointing to a second-innings collapse that saw them lose six for 44 to finish 255 and give England a glimmer of hope.

“I think the nerves were there to see in the way they batted. I think they didn’t know how many was enough,” said the 41-year-old.

“The chat last night from the coach was that if they get 600, we were going to go for it, but they were quite cautious even when they had a big lead.

“I don’t know if ‘intimidating’ is the right word but we’re putting different thoughts in opposition’s minds and captain’s minds. It definitely felt like they were unsure what a good score would be against us. There’s been moments throughout the last two years, particularly in the last 12 months, that makes us think we’re doing something well because the way teams have reacted.

“We’ve got so much quality in our dressing room and there are guys in there who can maybe get 150 for us and win us the game.”

Root has more big scores than anyone else in the away dressing room, but he may not be operating at 100 per cent due after an injury scare. He took a blow to the finger in Sunday’s warm-up and another while fielding at slip in the morning session, forcing him off the field for treatment.

It may not be wise for Root to do so himself, but the rest of his team-mates will be crossing their fingers it is nothing serious.

“His finger isn’t great. Hopefully he’ll turn up at the ground and be OK to hold a bat,” said Anderson.

“He’s been looking after it, making sure he did everything he could to help us out in the second innings. We’ll need everyone, I think.”

England’s eagerness to go on the attack was personified by the emergence of Rehan Ahmed at number three, volunteering his own promotion up the order in the ‘nighthawk’ role first devised by Stuart Broad.

He could have been out twice in the final over of the day but instead picked up two risky boundaries.

“He got announced as ‘nightwatchman’ over the Tannoy but he certainly wasn’t that,” Anderson said with a smile.

“I know there are 180 overs left in the game, but we will try to do it in 60 or 70. That’s the way we play, and we saw that tonight with Rehan going out and playing his shots. We have set our stall out.”

James Anderson led from the front as England bowled India out for 396 on the second morning in Visakhapatnam.

Anderson, 41 years old and with 22 years of international cricket on the clock, charged in for eight overs in the mid-morning heat in a metronomic spell worth two for 17.

He dismissed old adversary Ravichandran Ashwin and the dashing Yashavi Jaiswal, who finished with an outstanding 209, as England picked up their last four wickets for 60 runs.

There is plenty of cricket still to play but in keeping India below the 400 mark in what should be the best batting conditions of the match, England performed admirably. They then made a typically bright start to their reply, Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett rushing to 32 without loss in six overs before tea.

With the hosts resuming on 336 for six, England captain Ben Stokes chose to lean on his most and least experienced players, pairing Anderson with newcomer Shoaib Bashir and leaving them unchanged for 75 minutes.

Anderson, taking the new ball, used all of his subtle skills in an excellent spell and set the tone with a pair of breakthroughs. An early lbw shout against Jaiswal was close but not close enough and it was Ravichandran Ashwin, who had annoyed Anderson by moving around at the non-striker’s end, who was first to fall courtesy of a thin edge behind.

Jaiswal took just 20 balls to convert his overnight score of 179 into an outstanding double ton, sweeping Bashir for six and four in successive deliveries before standing arms outstretched in a manner that called to mind Jude Bellingham’s favourite celebration.

The 22-year-old seems destined for cricketing superstardom but he soon learned why so few over the years have slogged Anderson and survived to tell the tale. Stepping away and aiming for the stands, he only got half a connection and picked out Jonny Bairstow at deep cover.

His work finally done, Anderson retreated for a well deserved rest with figures of three for 45 in 25 overs.

The next generation did the rest, Rehan Ahmed (three for 65) getting Jasprit Bumrah caught at slip and Bashir (three for 138) made short work of fellow debutant Mukesh Kumar.

That left a tricky window for the England openers but they made light of the challenge, sharing six boundaries to begin the job of building their side’s response.

Shoaib Bashir made a memorable start to his England career, dismissing India captain Rohit Sharma on the first morning of the second Test in Visakhapatnam.

The 20-year-old off-spinner only arrived in the country six days ago, his visa application held up due to his Pakistani heritage, but was handed a debut in place of the injured Jack Leach.

Bashir claimed the first wicket of the morning session when Sharma flicked a catch to Ollie Pope, roaring in excitement and clenching both fists in celebration.

But it was hard work for the tourists after losing the toss on a good batting pitch, with India reaching 103 for two after James Anderson removed Shubman Gill just before lunch.

Yashavi Jaiswal led the way with 51 not out, biding his time and picking off bad balls as he collected six fours and a six.

Anderson, recalled in place of Mark Wood as the solitary seamer, kicked things off after Ben Stokes lost the toss and allowed just six runs from his first five overs.

The 41-year-old, who made his Test debut five months before Bashir was born, beat the bat a couple of times but the early signs suggested a flat track.

Joe Root shared the new ball but was unable to make his match-up with the left-handed Jaiswal pay off and soon made way for Bashir. The newcomer came to the crease with just 10 first-class wickets to his name across six matches, but quickly settled into a groove.

After three tidy overs he struck midway through his fourth, Sharma following a drifting ball and turning it to leg-slip after an unusually quiet 14 from 41 deliveries. Bashir’s team-mates thronged as he took in the moment, but with Jaiswal settling to his task there was plenty still to do.

Tom Hartley, England’s seven-wicket hero in Hyderabad, started steadily but was unable to create a chance and began to over-pitch as he searched for a breakthrough. Bashir held an end for 10 straight overs, erring only when he sent down a full toss which Jaiswal flogged for six.

Anderson got his side back into the fight in his second spell, taking Gill’s outside edge for 34 as Ben Foakes dived in front of slip to take the catch.

England are ready to play the generation game after pairing 20-year-old debutant Shoaib Bashir and 41-year-old seamer James Anderson for the second Test in India.

Bashir, who has been fast-tracked into the XI after just six first-class appearances and 10 wickets, was born five months after Anderson won his first cap at Lord’s in May 2003.

The duo come into a winning team at Visakhapatnam on Friday, with the young off-spinner replacing the injured Jack Leach and the country’s record wicket-taker in for Mark Wood.

Bashir will be the 99th player to make their England debut since Anderson made his bow against Zimbabwe more than two decades ago. Numbers 98 and 96, Tom Hartley and Rehan Ahmed, are the men to join Bashir in a three-pronged spin attack boasting just three Tests between them.

Solitary seamer Anderson is on hand to make up for their collective lack of experience as he lines up for the 184th time.

Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum have made fearless selections a hallmark of their reign as captain and coach but, emboldened by their stirring 28-run success in Hyderabad, this is their boldest move yet.

Yet Stokes, who was first alerted to Bashir’s promise via a social media clip of him bowling at Sir Alastair Cook, insisted it was a straightforward call.

“Bash coming in for Leachy was a simple one: one spinner out, one spinner in,” he said.

“Baz told him. So, when I went up to him, I knew that he knew and he just gave me a big hug. He looked very excited. I’m fully backing him and looking forward to hopefully putting on a grand show.”

Bashir impressed England during their recent training camp in Abu Dhabi and looked assured enough for Stokes to treat his delayed arrival in India, caused by visa hold-ups related to his Pakistani heritage, a non-factor.

Brushing off the disruption of his unplanned trip back to the embassy in London, he added: “There’s no issues for me that he’s been away from the group for a period of time, then come back in to make his debut. It’s not like he’s forgotten how to bowl.”

Sitting at the other end of the spectrum is Anderson, setting out on his 22nd calendar year of international cricket and his first outing since the retirement of long-time partner Stuart Broad.

He showcased his undimmed desire to play a part by throwing himself into substitute fielder duties on the final day of the first Test.

“It’s great that Jimmy is doing good things for the old boys out there,” said Stokes with a smile.

“It’s huge credit to him and lots of people should look up to Jimmy considering he is where he is at 41. Bringing in Jimmy’s experience, and the class that he has, is great for us and I think it also goes under the radar how good his record in India is.

“Considering what Jimmy is known for – ‘the swing king’ and all that – it just proves how good a bowler he is. Taking nothing away from Woody, we just feel like there’s a bit more I can turn to him for. It’s not just picking Jimmy for the new ball, it’s everything else he possesses – his reverse skills, his off-cutter skills and stuff like that.”

Stokes is playing in India as a specialist batter but bowled gently during Thursday’s practice session for the first time since undergoing knee surgery. He plans to return as a fully functioning bowling option during the English summer, when Joe Root’s newfound status as the side’s top-rated all-rounder – as confirmed by the latest ICC rankings – could come under threat.

“I’m surprised but he’s not actually mentioned he’s nipped above me,” Stokes said.

“I always said to Joe he underbowled himself as captain. I told him ‘I’ll make a bowler out of you!'”

Jack Leach has been ruled out of England’s second Test against India, pushing Somerset team-mate Shoaib Bashir one step closer to an international debut.

England will settle on their XI for Friday’s match in Visakhapatnam after taking a final look at the pitch, but will need to rethink in the absence of their senior spinner.

The 32-year-old was in visible discomfort for most of England’s remarkable victory in the first Test, where he played a restricted role, and finally gave in to the inevitable after sitting out Wednesday’s training session with bruising and swelling on his left knee.

“He’s ruled out of the second Test. Unfortunately the knock he took resulted in a haematoma,” said captain Ben Stokes, who hailed Leach as a “warrior” last week for struggling though the series-opener.

“It’s a big shame for us and a big shame for him. It’s something we’re assessing every day but the medical team have taken over on that so hopefully it’s not something too serious that keeps him out for longer.”

While Leach was an onlooker at nets, 20-year-old Bashir joined in for the first time since complications over his visa application were resolved.

Bashir racked up 10,000 unwanted air miles shuttling between Abu Dhabi, London and Hyderabad, where he arrived just in time to take in the final day of England’s audacious victory, and is now in the selection mix.

Record wicket-taker James Anderson is pushing hard for a recall, alongside or instead of fellow seamer Mark Wood, while Rehan Ahmed’s role could come into question after a quiet game with the ball.

But the fact that Bashir, who has a gossamer-thin first-class record of 10 wickets in six games at an average of 67, is being discussed shows just how far Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum are willing to push the envelope.

The success of the inexperienced Tom Hartley on debut last week, taking a second-innings seven-for to send his side 1-0 up, can only have emboldened Stokes.

It was him who first floated the youngster’s name six months ago after watching a video montage of Bashir bowling to former England captain Sir Alastair Cook on his first Somerset appearance.

“To be perfectly honest, our training camp in Abu Dhabi was the first real live look I got at Bash,” Stokes said.

“The first time I saw him was on Twitter. I think the County Championship put a little clip together of him bowling against Sir Alastair.

“I just saw something. With the height he bowled from, it was very obvious that he put a lot of action, a lot of revolutions, on the ball.

“I’m in a WhatsApp group with (director of cricket) Rob Key and Baz (McCullum). So I actually did forward the clip on and said, ‘Have a look at this, this could be something we could work with on our India tour’. It just progressed from there.”

Stokes realises how raw Bashir is and takes the responsibility of managing his fast-tracking to the international arena seriously.

“He’s a young kid who’s finding his way… I was about to say he’s finding his way in first-class cricket, but he’s on a Test tour now,” he said.

“He’s a real sponge at the moment and I think that’s because of how young he is. He’s got an unbelievable coach here in Jeetan Patel and he’s also got someone in Jack leach who is a massive help, particularly with their Somerset connection.

“If he was to play on this tour, the great thing he has going for him is what is there to lose? That is how I will be thinking about it if he gets the chance to play.

“Just make sure I give him the best experience I possibly can because you only play your first Test once. If he does play then I’ll be trying to make it as fun and enjoyable for him as I can.”

Steven Finn has tipped “superhuman” James Anderson to bounce back from his struggles last summer to make an impact for England in India.

Anderson claimed five wickets at an average of 85.40 in four Ashes Tests to spark more conjecture over his future after he turned 41 in July.

While Stuart Broad retired at the conclusion of the drawn series, Anderson had no such plans to walk away and Finn, who played with the veteran seamer during England’s successful tour of India in 2012-13, is confident his old team-mate will impress over the next two months.

“Jimmy is superhuman,” Finn said of the Lancashire seamer, who has 34 wickets and boasts an average of 29.32 from 13 Tests in India.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by We Are England Cricket (@englandcricket)


“People have been anticipating he will retire for about seven years now and he keeps surprising people and performing.

“He didn’t have a fantastic summer last year, but I know from knowing him as a character that he wouldn’t be doing this unless he felt he could make a difference.

“I think a determined Jimmy Anderson, well managed, is someone who will be important to England, especially making the most of the reverse swing because he is an absolute master at that.

“He would have worked on his fitness, he would have trained hard, he has got the skills and has got the experience so I anticipate when he plays, he’ll be an important cog.”

India have not lost a home Test series since England’s 2-1 win nine years ago and Finn predicted this would pose the “toughest challenge” of the Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum era.

England’s aggressive ‘Bazball’ style of play has taken the cricket world by storm over the past 18 months, but eyebrows have been raised at their preparation for this series, which begins in Hyderabad next Thursday.

Stokes’ squad have spent this week in state-of-the-art facilities in Abu Dhabi on a training camp and will only arrive in India three days before the first Test. It led to former seamer Steve Harmison predicting a 5-0 defeat.

Finn added: “I think if someone had offered (former head coach) Andy Flower three days’ preparation before a Test series his head would have exploded.

“I think there are a couple of caveats: times have changed, clearly. We don’t even go to an Ashes and have three warm-up games now, like we did on my first tour in 2010/11.

“I do think we encounter problems with the warm-up games because on that 2012 (India) tour, we turned up for a game and they played six 70mph medium pacers and no spinners and it didn’t replicate what you were going to find in the Test matches.

“I think the changing landscape of cricket has just meant they thought their preparation was best served elsewhere and it’s very hard to question this management team because every time we have over the last 18 months or so, they’ve dumbfounded everything we’ve thought of their decisions.

“I wouldn’t be as vociferous against it as Steve Harmison was a few weeks ago. It’s less than ideal but I don’t think it’s absolutely critical.”

IG, a leading trading and investments provider, has renewed its partnership with the ECB for a further three years. Through the Net Gains Fund, IG and the ECB will commit £1 million towards initiatives in under-served communities by 2027, including building new net facilities in five English cities in 2024.

England finished their triumphant Ashes series by beating Australia to win the fifth Test and complete a 3-1 victory on this day in 2011.

It had seemed a formality since the end of day three in Sydney that they would wrap up a series win – and so it proved when an innings-and-83-run triumph was confirmed just before noon.

Their success on the final day – as in many of those previous against an outplayed Australia in the 2010/11 series – came on the back of a mountain of runs from Alastair Cook and a supreme bowling collective led by James Anderson.

The series’ leading wicket-taker’s seven in the match took him up to 24 for the campaign, and Cook’s 189 in England’s mammoth 644 all out carried him above all but Wally Hammond among his country’s highest run-scorers in an Ashes series.

But there were several other significant contributors at the SCG, and elsewhere, as Andrew Strauss’ team achieved their long-held ambition – to become the first from England to win the Ashes outright in Australia for 24 years.

Such was their ultimate dominance – three innings victories, against one equally resounding defeat in Perth – that it was tempting to conclude it had all been a little bit more straightforward than expected.

However, captain Strauss said: “It hasn’t felt easy, there’s no doubt about that.
“There is always a feeling you don’t know what is round the corner, what’s going to be sprung on you.

“Thankfully, as the series has gone on, I think we have become more dominant – and certainly those last two Test matches were as well as an England side I’ve played in has performed.”

It remains the last time an England side won the Ashes on Australian soil.

James Anderson wants to prolong his Test career with England but David Gower believes the seamer "might just be lying to himself" on his future.

Anderson is the leading wicket-taker for seam bowlers in men's Test match history but struggled for large parts of the Ashes against Australia, who retained the urn with a 2-2 series draw.

The 41-year-old managed just five wickets across four Tests, one fewer than England's part-time off-spinner Joe Root, as Anderson struggled to trouble Australian batters.

Stuart Broad finished as England's leading wicket-taker after 22 dismissals and called time on his career, with Gower suggesting it may be time for Anderson to do the same.

"Jimmy wants to prolong his career literally as long as possible," former England captain Gower told Stats Perform. "He is so adamant that thoughts on retirement are not in his mind.

"I don't know Jimmy personally that well, but I suspect that's just because he loves being part of a team.

"Nowadays, you manage workloads, and that management has allowed Jimmy Anderson to still be playing international cricket at the age of 41. He loves it so much he doesn't want to give it away.

"The slight issue could be that people will look at his figures in this series. He's beaten the bat, yes, not as often as normal. He's had catches dropped off his bowling, which always infuriates and also makes the figures look worse, of course, but there's been just a little tiny downturn in the way he's bowled.

"At some stage, you have to say right we need to look ahead to the next generation. [Josh] Tongue, for instance, came in and looked pretty good. He's sharper than Anderson.

"Will Jimmy Anderson want to go to India where there's every likelihood that five pitches might be turning pitches? They're not going to be Jimmy Anderson pitches, I would suspect.

"If he wants to go to India, fair play to him. But selectors might at this stage be thinking now is the time that we have to have a quiet word in his ear.

"You maybe miss India, ostensibly, you could still keep the door open. He might be worried that they might tap him on the shoulder.

"He may say to the rest of the world: 'No, no, no, I'm absolutely fine, still got years left in me' – but he might just be lying to himself."

England captain Ben Stokes has repeatedly reiterated his desire to keep Anderson within the Test setup, with the former and coach Brendon McCullum placing their full backing in the seam bowler.

Regardless of whether Anderson – who has 690 wickets in red-ball internationals – continues, Gower believes the England veteran's legacy will remain intact.

"For Anderson, if this is the end for him, and it's still a very big if, you still look back on 20 years with extraordinary figures," Gower added.

"Even just look back to the winter, his figures in the winter, on very, very good batting pitches. In Pakistan, he played a full part in what was a great team effort winning a series, 3-0 in Pakistan, which in my time, that didn't happen.

"You had dead games on good pitches, maybe two-and-a-half innings in the entire game that was it, dull draws. England made those wins happen.

"They had to take wickets at key times and Jimmy was part of that. So you look back over 20 years and say it's an extraordinary, almost unbelievable record that sticks to his name."

England have named an unchanged XI for the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Kia Oval.

Record wicket-taker James Anderson, who turns 41 on day four, retains his place in the side despite a disappointing series thus far while Mark Wood and Chris Woakes have both been passed fit.

Australia take a 2-1 lead into the series decider and have already retained the urn but Ben Stokes’ men are looking to square the scoreline after last week’s washout at Old Trafford.

Anderson made it clear in a newspaper column that he has no intention of retiring and plans to continue his two-decade international career as long as he is wanted.

And captain Ben Stokes made it clear that was still the case.

“Jimmy Anderson is the greatest fast bowler to play the game,” he said.

“He’s not had the impact and the wickets he’d have liked to in this series, he’s come under a bit of flak, but he’s a quality performer.”

Stokes also paid tribute to his other veteran seamer, Stuart Broad, who has defied all expectations to play six Tests in a row this summer.

“At 37 years old it’s testament to the work and effort he puts in,” he said.

“It’s amazing. It was always going to be hard for one bowler to play every game this series but he’s been incredible for us. He’s been very good at coming on with the ball and changing the game.”

Page 2 of 8
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.