LONDON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - England’s fit-again seamer James Anderson has been included in their 17-man test squad for the four-match tour of South Africa starting on Dec. 26, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Saturday.
Anderson, England’s top test wicket-taker with 575, suffered a right calf tear in the opening Ashes test against Australia in August before being ruled out of the series.
The 37-year-old also missed England’s two-test series in New Zealand, which they lost 1-0, and is building up his fitness in a specialist pace bowling camp in South Africa that began on Dec. 1.
Fellow pace bowler Mark Wood is back in the squad despite nursing a left knee injury while wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow also returns. Lancashire seamer Saqib Mahmood was dropped.
"With James Anderson and Mark Wood returning to the squad, Saqib Mahmood is the unfortunate player to miss out," national selector Ed Smith said in a statement here
“It is not predicted that Mark will be available for... the earliest matches. However, he will travel with the team and continue his rehab work with the medical staff on tour.
“There is no exact date given for his return, but the medical team is working towards him becoming fully available for selection during the tour.”
Moeen Ali was not picked after the all-rounder said in September he would take a break from test cricket having lost out on a central contract for the longest format for the 2019-20 season.
The four-match series will mark England’s first away games in the ICC World Test Championship. (Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)