James Anderson has been ruled out of the rest of the Ashes after suffering a recurrence of his calf injury while playing for Lancashire’s 2nd XI in a bid to prove his fitness. England had been hoping to add him to their squad for the Old Trafford Test, but have instead called up Somerset allrounder Craig Overton as bowling cover.
Anderson played in the first Test against Australia but only managed to bowl four overs before suffering pain in his calf, having picked up the problem playing for Lancashire. England were heavily beaten at Edgbaston but came back to level the series at 1-1 with two to play after Ben Stokes’ heroics at Headingley.
Having featured for Lancashire’s seconds in a three-day friendly against Leicestershire, Anderson stepped up his recovery programme this week, bowling 20 overs on the first day against Durham 2nd XI at Chester Boughton Hall. However, while delivering his ninth over on Thursday, he felt pain in his right calf and was subsequently assessed by England’s medical team.
The most-prolific fast bowler in Test history, Anderson has in all likelihood made his final Ashes appearance. He has never hinted at setting a retirement date, but will be 39 by the time England next tour Australia in 2021-22.
It is possible he has played his final Test altogether, although the lure of becoming the first fast bowler to 600 wickets might encourage him to push for a return on the winter tours to New Zealand and South Africa. Anderson is currently fourth on the all-time list of Test wicket-takers, with 575.
His partnership with Stuart Broad is the most-successful in Tests between two quicks – they have taken more than 850 wickets in games together. In Anderson’s absence, Broad has led the way during the Ashes with 14 wickets at 25.35, although the emergence of Jofra Archer has given England an additional cutting edge.
The selectors have otherwise stuck with the same players that helped secure a one-wicket win in Leeds, despite some speculation about the top-order batting after England were bowled out for 67 in the first innings. Overton, who featured twice in the 2017-18 Ashes, is likely to join Sam Curran in vying with Chris Woakes for the No. 8 spot.
The Old Trafford Test begins on Wednesday, with England needing to win at least one of the two remaining Tests – and avoid defeat in the other – in order to regain the Ashes.
England squad: Joe Root (capt), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes