Five-star Anderson tops superb day
James Anderson signalled his determination to secure a key role in the Ashes with a timely display for England to help them take control of their warm-up match against Warwickshire.
The 26-year-old Lancashire seamer has been on the periphery of England plans for the last three Ashes series, playing just three Tests against Australia in that time.
But as England begin to finalise their plans for next week's opening Test in Cardiff, Anderson continued to underline his importance with a five-wicket haul against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Anderson, who picked up four wickets today, claimed 5-34 to dismiss Warwickshire for a lowly 102 and establish a 188-run first innings lead after they resumed the second day on 31 for one - and allowed an opportunity for useful batting practice.
England took that chance and reached 185 for two by the close to secure a 373-run lead with all but Kevin Pietersen, who was dismissed for six, taking advantage to spend useful time out in the middle.
Anderson's performance and eye-catching bowling displays from Andrew Flintoff and Monty Panesar ensured a satisfying day for England captain Andrew Strauss, who would also have noted how Australia took 44 overs to claim their first wicket against England Lions down the road at Worcester.
Lancashire seamer Anderson's display was particularly timely and continued his impressive form for England this summer following his nine-wicket haul in the second Test against West Indies at Durham.
That man-of-the-match display confirmed Anderson as a major threat for the bigger challenge this summer as he attempts to improve on a modest record against Australia of just five wickets at an average of 83.
Nobody within England's dressing room would even try to suggest that Anderson's haul at Edgbaston will guarantee he will be just as successful in the opening Test, but it is a sign he has maintained his form from the start of the summer.
Anderson began Warwickshire's collapse early in the morning session, making amends for a dropped catch at gully off Flintoff three overs earlier, to tempt Jonathan Trott into edging behind.
His efforts were briefly overshadowed by a hostile six-over spell from Flintoff, who finished with impressive figures of 2-16, which included a lifting delivery from around the wicket that Jim Troughton could only fend behind.
Anderson uprooted Tim Ambrose's off-stump and removed 17-year-old Ateeq Javid and Rikki Clarke in a three-over spell to complete his five-wicket haul.
Strauss' delight at his leading seamers' form would have been compounded by an equally impressive spell from left-arms spinner Panesar, who entered this practice match with just six first-class wickets but out-bowled fellow spinner Graeme Swann.
Panesar claimed 3-10, admittedly against Warwickshire's lower order, but he could make the journey to Cardiff on Monday looking forward to bowling on a surface which is expected to favour spinners.
England's speed in dismissing Warwickshire gave them an opportunity to bat again and, after Alastair Cook scored a century in the first innings, provided an opportunity for Ravi Bopara to gain important time in the middle as an opener alongside Strauss.
England's captain was dropped at slip on 23 but recovered to score a determined 61 before giving emerging seamer Chris Woakes a smart return catch to give Pietersen a chance to make amends for his first innings score of one.
Pietersen again failed to make an impression and guided seamer Boyd Rankin to second slip, but Bopara finished unbeaten on 88, while Paul Collingwood scored 21 to complete a satisfying day for England.