Lancashire fast bowler James Anderson is thrilled to have found form at the right time as England plot their team line-up for the first Ashes Test.
Anderson missed all seven of England's summer Test matches
Anderson, 24, returned 3-40 to stand alongside two first innings wickets as the match against a strong New South Wales side ended in a draw on Tuesday.
The holder of 13 Test caps said: "We were really happy with the way we went against very strong opposition.
"I am pleasantly surprised to be in with a chance of playing in the Ashes."
606 DEBATE: Give your thoughts on Anderson's form
Duncan Fletcher said before the tour match that Anderson had pushed the other Lancastrian, Sajid Mahmood, down the pecking order.
And Anderson justified his coach's confidence in his abilities by removing Aaron O'Brien and Daniel Smith in the space of two balls, before trapping up-and-coming all-rounder Moises Henriques lbw.
Anderson, whose only blemish was a dropped catch off Matthew Hoggard's bowling, said: "It was a frustrating summer with the injury and I haven't played a lot of cricket in the last six months.
"But there was something for me in the pitch today and I was pleased with the way I bowled.
"It was a massive step for me to bowl around 25 overs in the game and a huge bonus to have a chance of playing in the Test series."
When I was in the corset I couldn't even think of when my next game of cricket was going to be
Anderson was a hero in England's last overseas Test, when they beat India in Mumbai in April.
But he missed all seven of the summer Tests with a troublesome stress fracture of the back, as the likes of Mahmood and Liam Plunkett took his place in the side.
Anderson has not played an Ashes Test, but made his international debut in Australia during the 2002-03 one-day VB Series.
He said he had found his long battle back from injury difficult.
"When I was in the corset I couldn't even think of when my next game of cricket was going to be.
"But I got through that and my rehab and I'm glad to be here.
"When anyone's had a serious injury like that it's going to be in the back of your head and the first couple of times I bowled it was in the back of my mind.
"But once I bowled more the confidence grew so I forgot about it.
"It was a slow wicket, but lucky for me it swung in the first innings and then reversed in the second, so there was always something there for the bowlers."