Collingwood lauds 'leader' Anderson

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James Anderson & Paul Collingwood

Paul Collingwood says James Anderson's return "is crucial" to England's chances in the one-day series

Paul Collingwood has described James Anderson as “a real leader” among England’s bowlers and cannot wait to have him back in the side for Friday’s opening one-day international against South Africa at the Wanderers.

The 27-year-old Lancashire seamer is struggling with a knee problem and is one of several bowlers who have been on the injury list two weeks into a two-and-a-half-month tour.

Stuart Broad (shoulder) is the other frontline paceman struggling, while Graham Onions (back) played his first match on tour yesterday.

It has prompted the selectors to call on Liam Plunkett as cover, with the Durham seamer joining the rest of the squad in Johannesburg today.

Although England’s batsmen have had little trouble adapting to conditions, the bowlers have much room for improvement having taken 10 wickets only once in their first six tour games.

That was in the opener against the Diamond Eagles when both Anderson and Broad played, but Collingwood is unconcerned.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a major concern,” he said. “I think we’re aggressive as a unit, I think we’re getting more experience and we’ve obviously got Jimmy Anderson to come back into the side, which is crucial.

“I think he’s a real kind of leader for us now in terms of the bowling stakes. For such a young guy, I know that’s a big statement, but he is a real leader in bowling.

“But again, we’ve got a lot of potential and very dangerous bowlers, obviously with Broady coming back in as well.

"We have missed those two when they were injured. Hopefully they will be fit pretty soon and we can get back to bowling sides out.

Alec Stewart & Paul Collingwood

Collingwood shares England's record for the most one-day caps with Alec Stewart

Collingwood missed the last two games with a back injury and his absence alongside Broad and Anderson, off-spinner Graeme Swann (intercostal muscle), and opening batsman Alastair Cook (back) left England with just 11 fit players against South Africa A yesterday.

The visitors had the day off today ahead of a five-match ODI series and most of those injuries are expected to clear by Friday, with only Broad considered extremely doubtful.

Collingwood continued: “(The injury) is actually progressing really well. It was very, very sore on Sunday and I had two injections on Monday.

“If I was playing today I would have been 50-50, but I’ve got a couple of days to go so the chances are going to be very high.

“Everything seems to have settled down, I’m doing the work in the gym and progressing really well, so I’ve got a very good chance for Friday.”

If Collingwood plays he will become England’s most capped one-day player, surpassing the 170 appearances he currently shares with Alec Stewart.

He is delighted to be on the verge of breaking the record, but conceded that luck has been on his side after a difficult start to his career which began with four single-figure scores against Pakistan and Australia, before a trip to Zimbabwe helped boost his average.

“When you’ve played so many games along the way, you’ve got to probably have a lot of luck,” Collingwood added.

“Certainly after four games, I think I had a fair bit of luck in the selection going to Zimbabwe after that.

“Thankfully I’ve done okay since then. But you’ve got to stay injury-free to play that many games.

“Barring a couple of injuries early on in my career, it hasn’t been too bad. It’s a bit of a surprise that I’ve got to so many, but hopefully I can keep going for some time yet.”