James Anderson: Injured England bowler hopes to return 'stronger'

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'Worst pain I've been in on a cricket field'

James Anderson hopes to return to the England team "stronger" and has not ruled out being fit for the tour of Sri Lanka in March.

The 37-year-old pace bowler broke a rib in the second Test against South Africa last week and will miss the rest of the four-match series.

It was only his second Test back after five months out with a calf injury.

"A broken rib will hopefully be healed in three or four weeks," he said on the Tailenders podcast.

"Once the bone has healed, I can get straight back into it."

Anderson, England's all-time leading wicket-taker, bowled only four overs in last summer's Ashes series because of the calf problem.

He endured a difficult return in England's first Test defeat by South Africa, only to claim five wickets in the first innings of the second Test, which the tourists won to level the series.

"I know a lot does get talked about as you get older, but it's more knowing within yourself," said the Lancashire man. "I thought I could still do it, but you don't know unless you do it on the field.

"That will help me through the next few weeks, knowing that I want to come back stronger and still play a part in this England side.

"I'm not ruling out being fit for the Sri Lanka trip."

England face Sri Lanka in two Tests, with the first Test starting on 19 March.

As England pushed for victory on the final day of the second Test in Cape Town, Anderson did not bowl at all in the afternoon session and was in clear discomfort when he sent down two overs after tea.

"I was in the most pain I've ever been in on a cricket field," he said. "I couldn't pull through properly.

"It was hurting every time I bowled, so I knew there was something not right.

"I was saying to Stuart Broad 'I think there's something really wrong here'. I thought I'd ripped a muscle off the rib, so a broken rib isn't the worst outcome. A torn muscle would be anywhere from two, three or four months.

"The first question the physio asked was if I had been hit - in the nets or landing on it fielding. I'd have remembered if I'd been hit. They think it is through the constant force of me bowling. The muscles were strong enough, but the bone wasn't."

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