James Anderson has been ruled out of the remainder of the tour of South Africa due to a left rib injury.
Anderson, the leading wicket-taker among fast bowlers in Test history, sustained the injury on the final day of the Cape Town Test. With England pressing for victory, he continued to bowl despite the pain and despite the knowledge that, by doing so, he risked exacerbating the problem.
He underwent a scan in Cape Town on Wednesday which confirmed the issue was bone-related rather than a soft-tissue injury. Such setbacks typically take between six to eight weeks to heal.
Anderson will return to England in the next few days for rest and rehab, with Craig Overton, the Somerset seamer, staying on with the squad as cover.
Frustrating to be missing the rest of this series with a broken rib but hopefully will be healed in a few weeks! Will be supporting the boys from home pic.twitter.com/rPM3FebQi5
— James Anderson (@jimmy9) January 8, 2020
The new injury is a cruel setback for Anderson. The Cape Town Test was just his second since returning from a calf injury that limited him to only four overs in the entire Ashes campaign. The prospect of several more weeks of rehab may well prove disheartening, although he signalled his desire to battle back in an upbeat tweet shortly after the news was confirmed.
“Frustrating to be missing the rest of this series with a broken rib but hopefully will be healed in a few weeks!” Anderson wrote. “Will be supporting the boys from home.”
Anderson bowled immaculately in Cape Town, even though he was limited to eight overs on the final day after reporting tightness and discomfort at the end of the morning session. He became the oldest England seamer to claim a five-wicket haul in Test cricket since Freddie Brown in 1951 in the first innings while his overall match figures were seven for 63 from 37 overs.
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Such figures may convince him that, once recovered, he can still play a role at Test level. He had previously suggested he may like to sit out England’s tour of Sri Lanka in March – he argued the pitches will render him largely redundant in any case – with a view to returning to the side for the home season. England’s first Test of the home summer, against West Indies, starts on June 4.
The news sustains England’s tricky start to the tour. After contending with a virulent sickness bug that affected 11 players ahead or during the first Test, England lost their first-choice opening batsman, Rory Burns, to an ankle ligament injury while he was playing football in warm-up the day before the second Test. At the time Ben Stokes suggested, tongue only partly in cheek, that the tour was “cursed.”
Anderson requires 16 more wickets to become the fourth man to claim 600 Test victims.