Low-key return to county action for Lancashire’s James Anderson

County Cricket

James Anderson made a low-key return to action as a star-studded Lancashire attack went wicketless on the first morning of their LV= Insurance County Championship meeting with Gloucestershire.

England’s record wicket-taker was the prime attraction on his first appearance since his controversial dropping for last month’s West Indies tour, leading an imposing group that also included two more Test seamers in Saqib Mahmood and Hassan Ali, as well as leg-spinner Matt Parkinson.

But visiting skipper Graeme van Buuren showed faith in openers Marcus Harris and Chris Dent on a true pitch at Emirates Old Trafford, batting first and seeing the pair put on 101 without loss as both reached 46 not out.

Anderson, back on the field for the first time since saving the penultimate Ashes Test in Sydney three months ago, bowled two tidy spells before lunch for figures of 7-1-21-0.

Despite starting with a wide, the 39-year-old soon settled into a rhythm but was unable to generate any danger against the left-handed pair. He last crossed paths with Australian batter Harris during the Ashes, dismissing him in Melbourne and again at the SCG, but found his rival in solid defensive form.

He took 15 balls to get off the mark, but quickly caught up with Dent’s livelier tempo as the duo helped themselves to 13 fours.

Dent played the ball rather than the reputations of the opposition, shaping up soundly and scoring consistently with the assistance of four overthrows off Anderson’s bowling. Harris, meanwhile, greeted the introduction of Parkinson by clubbing his fourth ball for six over long-on.

Mahmood, picked ahead of Anderson in the Caribbean, was the pick of the attack on his domestic comeback. He bowled five threatening overs for 10 runs, including four edged past the stumps by Harris. His pace was strong, he nagged the outside edge and underlined the positive impressions made on his early England appearances in Barbados and Grenada.