Cricket

James Anderson cannot wait to return for England against Pakistan

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James Anderson is eager to resume his record-breaking Test career after sitting out the last two matches of England's 2015 Ashes series victory.

A side strain kept the 33-year-old off the pitch as England regained the urn in Nottingham, and also for the final Test at The Oval.

But Anderson, who returned for Lancashire at the end of the summer, is "itching" to be involved again when Alastair Cook's team begin their three-Test series against Pakistan on Tuesday.

England's all-time leading wicket-taker will not have to worry about prising out Azhar Ali in Abu Dhabi either, because the Pakistan number three has been ruled out of the opening match with a foot infection.

Azhar made more than 250 runs, at above 50 an innings, when England were beaten 3-0 by Pakistan on their last trip here.

On hearing of his initial absence in this return series, Anderson said: "He obviously played very well last time.

"In that number three spot, he was the guy to get out for them - even with the experienced players who came in after him."

Azhar's misfortune appears to fall into the category of curious sporting injuries.

He reportedly first hurt his foot during the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca undertaken at least once by all adult Muslim men and the scene of huge crowds gathering to fulfil the religious duty.

An infection then set in, and forced the one-day international captain out of last week's decider as Pakistan beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in Harare.

Before Sunday's confirmation that he will also miss the first Test against England, team manager Intikhab Alam said: "Azhar has not been able to train, because he can't wear a shoe on his left foot.

"He suffered a foot infection, and the skin on his toe came off."

Anderson needs no reminding of Azhar's importance to Pakistan.

He added: "I thought he was the key wicket for us (in 2012).

"So obviously, he will be a big miss for them.

"But they've got other quality players who've got plenty of runs out here. So there's plenty of other players we've got to watch out for."

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James Anderson (cricket)

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