Veteran pacer James Anderson has declared himself fit and in good form as he attempts to win his spot back in England's Test side this summer.
Despite a handful of excellent performances during a disastrous Ashes campaign in Australia over the winter, Anderson was dropped by England for their tour of the West Indies earlier this year.
But with England sporting a fresh new look at the top with the recent appointment of Brendon McCullum as coach and Ben Stokes as captain, Anderson is in contention to earn a recall to the Test setup for next month's three-match series against New Zealand.
No seamer in the history of cricket has more Test wickets than Anderson, but the experienced right-armer is taking nothing for granted ahead of a likely squad announcement later this week.
"I don’t want to be counting my chickens, I want to make sure I am bowling well, taking wickets and in good form if and when that call comes," Anderson told Sky Sports.
"For most of the year I have been thinking about trying to start the season well for Lancashire and preparing for that.
"I feel in good shape, in good form, so I am happy with the way things are going and I will be absolutely delighted if I do get back into the team."
The return of Anderson will be pivotal for an England side that currently sits at the bottom of the World Test Championship standings with just one Test victory from the last 12 months.
Anderson has looked in decent form during three County matches with Lancashire over the past month, with the 39-year-old collecting a total of 11 wickets at an average of 19.54 and an impressive economy rate of 1.83.
His scalps have included Joe Root, with Anderson clean bowling the former England skipper with a ball that kept low on the final day of Lancashire's drawn match against Yorkshire.
Root was still in charge of England when selectors decided to leave Anderson at home for the tour of the Caribbean, but the experienced right-armer said there was no animosity between himself and the former captain.
Anderson said he had moved on quickly from the disappointment of being dropped and had been using all his energy into performing well at domestic level for Lancashire.
"The way things have been going over the winter, I set my mind on trying to bowl well for Lancashire and put in performances that selectors would take note of,” he said.
"I am just keeping my fingers crossed for later in the week as it is something that every cricket player wants to do is play for England.
"So, if that call came I would be absolutely delighted."
Anderson's chances of winning a recall have been boosted with recent news that fellow pacer Saqib Mahmood has been ruled out for the entire summer.
Mahmood, who made his Test debut against West Indies earlier this year, has been experiencing back pain of late and the England Cricket Board confirmed on Monday that the right-armer would be sidelined for an extended period.
We're gutted for you, Saqi 💔— England Cricket (@englandcricket) May 16, 2022
All the best with your recovery and we'll be with you all the way 💪
The Lancashire quick joins Mark Wood, Jofra Archer, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes and Matt Fisher on a long list of injured England seamers, meaning Anderson and fellow veteran Stuart Broad are likely to earn a recall to face New Zealand.
England v New Zealand Test schedule:
First Test: Lord's - June 2-6
Second Test: Trent Bridge - June 10-14
Third Test: Headingley - June 23-27
BE A PART OF CRICKET'S NFT REVOLUTION
Crictos official marketplace is now open!
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!