Skipper Alastair Cook moves to defuse row over James Anderson's omission from first Test against Pakistan

 
Ross McLean
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Anderson is England's leading Test wicket-taker of all-time (Source: Getty)

Skipper Alastair Cook has played down the notion of friction in the England camp as the row over seamer James Anderson’s omission from the first Investec Test at Lord’s rumbles on.

Anderson is set to return to England’s starting XI for the second Test at Emirates Old Trafford, which starts on Friday, as is all-rounder Ben Stokes, while Jake Ball and Steven Finn have both been dropped from the original 14-man squad.

Cook and head coach Trevor Bayliss were keen for Anderson, who suffered a stress fracture to his right shoulder last month, to play at Lord’s but were said to be overruled by selectors who preferred not to risk his longer-term fitness.

Essex opener Cook has described the affair as a “sideshow” and suggested reports that director of cricket Andrew Strauss is set to shake up the process of selection decisions at the end of the season are way off the mark.

“The selectors didn’t think he was fit enough,” said Cook. “The medical reports were 50-50, so he was left out. They felt he was a week away from match fitness, but now he’s ready.

“I think a lot of what has been written has been blown out of proportion, like one yesterday said: ‘Strauss sacks all selectors’. I don’t know quite where those stories have come from.

“A lot has been blown out of proportion and unfortunately we didn’t play the greatest game of cricket. If we had played a really good game of cricket and won the game then that story wouldn’t have been blown up like it has done.

“It’s happened, it was a slightly messy affair. No one intended it and we’ve got to move and play better cricket. It’s been a bit of a sideshow, an unimportant sideshow.”

The option remains for England to play two spinners after leg-spinner Adil Rashid was retained in their squad. Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, meanwhile, has confirmed that first-Test man of the match Yasir Shah is fit to play after suffering a blow to his shoulder in training.