Veteran pace spearhead James Anderson is set to miss the opening Test against Australia, reports said Tuesday, dealing a blow to England’s chances of regaining the Ashes. The 39-year-old, Test cricket’s most prolific fast bowler with 632 scalps, has a minor calf problem, The Cricketer said with the BBC also reporting that he was unlikely to start in Brisbane in Wednesday. The England Cricket Board did not immediate confirm the news.
His absence would leave England to choose four bowlers from Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad and Jack Leach to play alongside returning all-rounder Ben Stokes.
They were already without pacemen Jofra Archer, who is not on the tour as he recovers from an elbow injury, and Olly Stone who missed out because of back surgery.
Anderson went through his paces in the nets for almost a hour Monday but, with memories still fresh of his withdrawal from the first Test of the 2019 Ashes after four overs, a decision was made not to risk him, The Cricketer said.
His reported omission comes a day after England captain Joe Root refused to unveil his team for the Gabba Test despite Australia confirming their starting eleven at the weekend.
“I’m not into mind games, I’m just not in a position right now to name my team,” Root told journalists.
“Fair play that they’ve announced their eleven. Doesn’t really concern me or change anything from our perspective. We’ll conduct our business how we want to and let you know when we’re ready.”
Given his age, Anderson had been unlikely to play all five Tests in the series.
The second Test in Adelaide, a pink ball match under lights, is scheduled to start on December 16 — just four days after Brisbane finishes.
Anderson has taken 60 wickets at 35.43 in 18 Tests in Australia, almost 10 runs worse than his career average of 26.62.
Australia are the current holders of the Ashes after retaining the urn following a 2-2 draw in England in 2019. They won the last series at home 4-0 in 2017/18.