Jimmy Anderson a serious doubt for England’s Ashes opener

• Bowler sustains calf tear playing for Lancashire
• Jofra Archer could step up for first Test at Edgbaston

Jimmy Anderson, England’s record-breaking seam bowler and the spearhead of the bowling attack, is in serious danger of missing the first Test against Australia following the news that an MRI scan has shown he has suffered a “low-grade calf muscle tear”.

The first Test in the most condensed Ashes series ever undertaken begins on 1 August at Edgbaston and is preceded by England’s first Test match against Ireland at Lord’s, which starts on 24 July. That is an historic occasion but England are also planning to use it as vital preparation for the Ashes series. Now there is no guarantee Anderson will be fit for either game.

Anderson left the field during Lancashire’s County Championship match against Durham at Sedbergh school on 2 July because of tightness to his right calf; he underwent an MRI scan on Friday and now begins a rehabilitation programme with the England and Lancashire medical teams. He will miss Lancashire’s next two championship matches, against Northamptonshire and Sussex.

The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed the injury and said Anderson would be “reassessed on an ongoing basis regarding his availability” for the match against Ireland and the first Ashes Test.

Despite his age – 36 – Anderson has an excellent fitness record in recent times and remains England’s first-choice pace bowler in red-ball cricket; he was the outstanding bowler in England’s last Ashes campaign in Australia, albeit in a side who were easily overwhelmed. It would be a severe blow to England’s chances of regaining the Ashes if he was absent at the start. They would miss not only his bowling but also his on-field guidance.

At least England, who are assembling at Edgbaston to prepare for their World Cup semi-final against Australia, have some credible alternatives. Throughout the World Cup Jofra Archer, who had never bowled a ball for England until May, has been impressive, bowling fast and demonstrating an appetite for the big occasion. Anderson’s absence could well hasten the 24-year-old’s Test debut.

The Spin: sign up and get our weekly cricket email.

If England are fearful of missing Anderson’s vast experience they know they can call on Stuart Broad, who, like Anderson, has been appearing in county cricket this summer in order to ensure he is ready for the challenge of another Ashes campaign. Within the World Cup squad there are also two bowlers whose chances of playing at Lord’s and Edgbaston are enhanced if Anderson is not fit.

Mark Wood played in England’s last Test match in St Lucia in February, where he took six wickets against West Indies, sufficient to win the man of the match award. Chris Woakes, who has not played a Test since August 2018, partly because of nagging injury concerns, has been displaying increasingly good form in the World Cup.

If Anderson is sidelined three of the four mentioned above are likely to join Ben Stokes in England’s pace attack at the start of the Ashes. But none can be regarded as like-for-like replacements for England’s most successful and durable pace bowler.

Contributor

Vic Marks

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
England’s Ashes puzzles: what to do about Anderson, Roy – and Stokes | Tim de Lisle
Who makes room for Jimmy Anderson? Should Jason Roy be dropped or moved? And how do make sure Ben Stokes is still on song? There is plenty to ponder before the fourth Test

Tim de Lisle

29, Aug, 2019 @12:09 PM

Article image
Jimmy Anderson ruled out of fourth Test and rest of Ashes series
Jimmy Anderson has been ruled out of the rest of the Ashes after the England bowler felt pain in his right calf playing for Lancashire second XI on Thursday

Chris Stocks

30, Aug, 2019 @5:24 PM

Article image
Joe Root confident Jimmy Anderson will be fit for first Ashes Test
The England captain remained upbeat with the Ashes looming despite the announcement that the leader of his attack will miss the Test against Ireland

Vic Marks at Lord’s

23, Jul, 2019 @10:02 AM

Article image
Jimmy Anderson vows to regain full fitness and No 1 Test bowler ranking
The England fast bowler Jimmy Anderson will look at sports people who stay competitive in their late 30s, while Justin Langer defended Steve Smith over his glasses celebration

Ali Martin at the Oval

10, Sep, 2019 @7:27 PM

Article image
England’s Jimmy Anderson still has hope of bowling again in first Ashes Test
Jimmy Anderson was refusing to rule out bowling in Australia’s second innings after testing his injured calf before the start of play on day two of the first Ashes Test

Ali Martin at Edgbaston

02, Aug, 2019 @8:31 PM

Article image
David Warner holds fire in Ashes patience game with Jimmy Anderson | Adam Collins
The Australian opener demonstrated his maturity and judgment in a duel with the England seamer that showcased two masters of their craft

Adam Collins at the MCG

29, Dec, 2017 @1:38 PM

Article image
Jimmy Anderson calls for big hundreds and 90mph Ashes X-factor
England’s best bowler drove himself harder than ever into the unyielding pitch in Melbourne and his blueprint for future success in Australia deserves to be heard

Vic Marks in Sydney

31, Dec, 2017 @6:54 PM

Article image
Jimmy Anderson told to prove fitness in match before Ashes return
Jimmy Anderson must prove his fitness in match conditions before returning to England’s Test side

Ali Martin

06, Aug, 2019 @5:06 PM

Article image
Joe Root says England will not make kneejerk decisions after Test rout
Joe Root claimed England must avoid making kneejerk decisions after their 251-run defeat by Australia in the first Test

Ali Martin at Edgbaston

05, Aug, 2019 @6:35 PM

Article image
England’s inept afternoon conjures dark memories of 90s Ashes failings | Barney Ronay
Two and a half hours of spills, thrills and bellyaches put Australia out of sight and the home side may already be thinking about how to survive

Barney Ronay at Old Trafford

05, Sep, 2019 @7:17 PM