Cook hopeful for speedy Anderson return


Alastair Cook is hopeful James Anderson will make a quick return after being left out of the side for the first Test against Pakistan at Lord's on Thursday.

Anderson, England's highest wicket-taker, will miss the opening match of the four-Test series due to a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade.

Captain Cook believes the additional recovery time may help the 33-year-old be back for the second match in Manchester which starts on July 22.

"Clearly Jimmy has been touch and go for a while and he's making really good progress," said Cook.

"In the selectors' view he's not quite ready for the first Test match, hopefully he'll be there for the second."

Toby Roland Jones, yet to make his international debut, has been selected in Anderson's place having taken 278 wickets in 75 first-class matches, while batsman Gary Ballance returns to the fold for the first time since the 2015 Ashes defeat at Lord's.

"Toby has had a really good summer so far. He's been there or thereabouts for the last two or three years and has been top of the bowling stats and has improved a lot," said Cook.

"I think he's a very decent bowler. It's good to see him in the squad for the first time, it must be great news for him.

"And then Gary has come back into the fold. He's got a very good record in international cricket and he's a very robust character.

"He might have felt he had been unlucky to get dropped at one stage. The change was made and he's on his way back because I think people and the selectors like what he can do in international cricket."

Joe Root is set for a promotion in the batting order from four to three, and Cook is confident he can still produce the goods from the new position.

"Well I hope he hasn't just found out. Clearly it's a conversation we've had over the last week or so and even a bit longer than that," said the captain.

"I think it's the right thing to do. He's our best player and it is quite an Australian thing in one sense that the best player bats at three, and we haven't always got off to the best starts over the last 18 months.

"There's no reason why he won't continue scoring the same amount of runs as he did before."