England vs Pakistan 2016: Alastair Cook surprised by James Anderson fitness debate
Cook said that the reason for omitting Anderson from the squad for the first Test was that he was not yet fully match-fit.
England skipper Alastair Cook has expressed his surprise at the manner in which the debate surrounding James Anderson’s fitness picked up following their 75-run loss against Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s. With concerns over Anderson’s match-fitness after recovering from injury, the English selectors opted not to pick their pace spearhead in the squad for the first Test and instead asked him to play County Cricket with Lancashire – a decision which was criticised by many, including former skipper Michael Vaughan.
However, Cook, who along with coach Trevor Bayliss and selectors James Whitaker, Mick Newell and Angus Fraser, played a part in leaving out Anderson, said that the furore over his omission would not have been there had the hosts managed to avoid defeat in the opening match of the series.
“If we'd won, that story wouldn't have blown up like it has," said Cook. "The medical report was 50-50, so he was left out. The selectors felt he was a week away from match fitness. We didn't play the greatest game of cricket, so people start jumping on things that were less important.”
Cook also laughed away reports that action will be taken against the selectors for their decision stating there was not an iota of truth in the baseless rumours.
"There was a headline that said the selectors will be sacked. I don't know where these stories are coming from," Cook said. "It happened, it was a slightly messy affair and an unimportant sideshow. We have to move on and play good cricket."
With England trimming down their original 14-man squad for the second Test at Old Trafford to 12 with the exclusion of Steven Finn and Jake Bell, Anderson as well as all-rounder Ben Stokes, are certain to feature in the second Test which begins on Friday. Question marks still remain though whether leg-spinner Adil Rashid will sneak into the playing XI tomorrow and speaking ahead of the match, Cook remained tight-lipped about his team combination.
"Adil really impressed during the one-day series against Sri Lanka," said Cook. "He is improving all the time. He seems to have been around forever but spinners can take a while to develop."
Despite the England bowling unit getting bolstered considerably by the addition of Stokes and Anderson, Cook felt the batsmen were to blame for the defeat at Lord’s and urged his players to perform as a team in the remaining matches.
"Lack of runs at Lord's cost us 100%," he said. "It's an opportunity here and the guys are in a good frame of mind. You know you can talk all you want, but it's about us playing as a group and standing up."