England spearhead James Anderson said he was itching to stage a comeback in the first Test against Pakistan, starting in Abu Dhabi from Tuesday, hoping to get a good start in the series.
The 33-year-old, who missed the final two Tests in England’s 3-2 Ashes triumph back home two months ago with a side strain, said he was ready for a tough series.
“I am itching to get going again,” said Anderson after England’s practice on Sunday. “It was frustrating to miss the last couple of Tests of the summer but I’ve played a bit for Lancashire (county) which was good and since being out here all of us have acclimatised quite quickly and are raring to go.”
With more focus on spinners than fast bowlers on turning pitches in United Arab Emirates (UAE), Anderson stressed the importance of being on target in the searing heat.
“When we came out here last time we bowled 4-5 overs maximum (in a spell) which means you have to be on the money from ball one and put a bit for emphasis on you as a bowler – you can’t just ease into a spell. You have to nail it,” said Anderson.
“We know we’ll have to bowl very well to do that. It’s an exciting challenge; the conditions, the heat, if we do perform well it will be very satisfying. And it is very important we start well.”
Anderson admitted facing a formidable Pakistan.
“We know they (Pakistan) will be challenging, the heat will be a tough ask for the bowlers and will make it difficult for us. But we’ve acclimatised well.
“We are excited for the challenge and we’ve done all we can do be ready for Tuesday. We are aware of how we performed last time we were here,” said Anderson, one of four survivours of the 3-0 rout England suffered here in 2012.
Anderson said England have improved in the last three years.
“We’ve turned things around a little bit, a change in personnel, and as we saw in the Ashes – we lost them in 2013 but then won them back – so it’s all about how you prepare and play in that particular series.
“What happened in the past doesn’t really matter that much.”
Anderson, the leading wicket-taker for his country with 413 in 107 Tests, said beating Pakistan would be a top achievement.
“Especially with Pakistan’s record here, it’s going to be a big ask and if we do manage to win it would be right up there (with Australia and India),” said Anderson.
Anderson reckoned Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali — ruled out of the first Test with a foot infection — will be missed.
“He (Ali) was the guy to get out for them even with their experienced players after him, I thought he was the key wicket for us so he’ll be a big miss but they have plenty of other quality players who have made big runs out here.”