CAPTAIN Andrew Strauss admits England are taking a “small risk” in picking star bowler James Anderson for the first Test against South Africa on Wednesday.
Anderson has been struggling with a knee injury but was risked for 15 overs in the final warm-up match before the series opener at Centurion.
The Lancastrian weighed in with just one wicket in the drawn match against a South African Invitational XI, but Strauss insists he is not concerned with the fitness of his No1 strike bowler.
“There is an element of risk, but a small one,” Strauss said. “Even when his knee has been hurting quite a lot, it still hasn’t prevented him from bowling.
“We never got to that stage – and that was quite a long time ago. I’m not overly concerned. But when you pick a bowler you want him to be as close to 100 per cent fit as possible because in these conditions, you’re going to be asking quite a lot of your fast bowlers.”
Strauss’ concerns were eased somewhat by the form of seamer Ryan Sidebottom, who pressed his claims for a place in the bowling attack for Wednesday with an impressive five-wicket haul.
The left-armer, who has himself been struggling with a side injury, took 5-42, leaving his skipper contemplating a healthy dilemma.
“It was very encouraging to see the way Ryan bowled,” Strauss added.
“I was very impressed with him. The ball hit the gloves hard; he swung it, reverse-swung it at the end – and he’s always pretty accurate.
“It’s a pretty good combination when he’s got all that going.”