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Ryan Sidebottom and James Anderson stake England claims

Tour match, Buffalo Park, East London:
Day two (close): England 317-5 dec draw with South African Invitational XI 263
Match scorecard

Ryan Sidebottom
Sidebottom staked his case to play in the opening Test, starting on Wednesday

Ryan Sidebottom took 5-42 as England drew their final match before next week's first Test against South Africa.

James Anderson, who has been troubled by a knee injury, took 1-58 as a South African Invitational XI were reduced to 76-5, before the hosts rallied.

Sidebottom, who has also been battling injury, then struck three times as England took four wickets for one run and the innings ended on 263.

England had earlier declared on their overnight total of 317-5.

That gave Anderson the chance to prove his fitness for the Test series and England's leading fast bowler, who has been hampered by his injury for the past two months, enjoyed a great start with a wicket in his second over.

I don't think you can be totally sure how Jimmy feels until we see how his knee settles down after this game

Andrew Strauss

However, the Lancastrian was unable to take another wicket during his 15 overs and finished with figures of 1-58.

Sidebottom, who has had a side problem, showed his return to form with a superb spell of swing bowling while all-rounder Luke Wright boosted his chances with 2-31.

Captain Andrew Strauss said he was confident that both Anderson and Sidebottom would be fit for the opening Test at Centurion, although he admitted there was an element of risk in playing them, especially Anderson.

"I'm not overly concerned. But when you pick a bowler you want him to be as close to 100% fit as possible - because in these conditions, you're going to be asking quite a lot of your fast bowlers.

"I don't think you can be totally sure how Jimmy feels until we see how his knee settles down after this game.

James Anderson
Anderson has had injections in his knee to help ease the pain

"But I thought he looked pretty good today and in his third spell, he didn't seem like he had any ill-effects from his first couple."

Sidebottom could now be battling Graham Onions for a place in the first Test, with fellow seamers Mark Davies failing to take a wicket in his one match on tour and Liam Plunkett yet to play.

"It was very encouraging to see the way Ryan bowled," said Strauss. "I was very impressed with him. The ball hit the gloves hard; he swung it, reverse-swung it at the end - and he's always pretty accurate.

"It's a pretty good combination when he's got all that going."

Strauss was coy about the possible make-up of his side which could yet feature a four or five-man attack, five or six specialist batsmen - or all-rounder Luke Wright to try to cover all bases.

"We certainly haven't nailed our colours to the mast on the balance issue at this stage," he said.

"It would be wrong for us to do that before we've seen the conditions at Centurion - and how Jimmy recovers from this game."

After Anderson's early strike at Buffalo Park, Sidebottom took his first two wickets and Wright and Stuart Broad took one apiece as the tourists dominated.


However, Yaseen Vallie steadied the Invitational XI's innings with a half century before off-spinner Graeme Swann grabbed his only wicket.

Seventh-wicket pair Charl Pietersen (64) David Wiese (80) further frustrated the tourists with a bold counter-attack.

Wiese brought up his 50 from only 45 balls, with 48 of his runs coming in boundaries, while Pietersen had a lucky escape when wicketkeeper Matt Prior dropped an edge off namesake Kevin from the last ball before tea.

But their resistance came to a quick end after the break thanks to Sidebottom's lively spell.

First he yorked Pietersen and then he bowled Wiese before claiming his fifth wicket lbw to end the match.

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see also
Strauss hits ton in final warm-up
11 Dec 09 |  England
Swann hits top form for England
10 Dec 09 |  England
Anderson to miss England warm-up
08 Dec 09 |  England
Poor weather frustrates Pietersen
07 Dec 09 |  England
Gooch non-committal on coach role
06 Dec 09 |  England
Seamer Davies handed England call
05 Dec 09 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England

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