Ashes hopes fading fast for 'angry' Anderson
England's leading Test wicket-taker outlines the key detail that may thwart any chance of him making a return to action against Australia
Sam Ferris in London
12 August 2019, 08:48 AM AEST
An Ashes comeback by injured England seamer James Anderson remains in heavy doubt after the veteran revealed he will need to bowl in a match before returning to the Test team.
Anderson was ruled out of the second Ashes Test at Lord's after injuring his troublesome right calf on the opening morning at Edgbaston. It is the same calf that kept him out of the one-off Ireland Test late last month.
The 37-year-old said his calf "wasn't playing ball" after doing all the prescribed rehabilitation and passing all the fitness tests in the lead-up to the first Test.
The blow left Anderson frustrated and angry but the veteran holds out hope of playing in the back end of the Ashes.
But if he is to return he says he will need to play a match to prove he can cope with the rigours of bowling repeated spells, which was not possible ahead of the first Test due to the England domestic schedule entering the T20 stage of the summer.
Anderson will face a similar challenge in his latest comeback, with his county club Lancashire not playing a red-ball fixture between the start of the third Test at Leeds and two days before the fifth Test at The Oval, with that four-day match set to overlap with the Ashes finale.
One possibility for Anderson could be playing for Derbyshire in their tour match against Australia from August 29-31, but that fixture might be too soon after his latest injury.
There are a number of T20 matches Anderson could play for Lancashire but playing in the game's shortest format was not considered an option during his build up to Birmingham.
"Literally, there's nothing else we could have done – we did all the rehab," Anderson said on BBC Radio Five Live.
"The only thing I didn't do was play a match, but there's T20 going on at the minute, there's no games to play, but if I do manage to come back in this series then I'll have to play some sort of cricket beforehand.
"I was excited to get out there and felt great in that first few overs and then in my fourth over didn't feel quite right, so I went off to get it checked and all the tests they do on the calf to see if it's alright it just wasn't playing ball, so hugely frustrating.
"You feel a lot of emotions actually; I felt angry as well, having done all the work to get there.
"I missed out the Ireland game as well as a precaution to then make sure I was 100 per cent for the Ashes, and then for it to just not play ball it just wasn't happy.
"It actually settled down when we batted, it settled down a bit, and I was planning on bowling in the second innings, but then when I was batting I pushed off for a run, and again it didn't feel right.
"And as it turns out I have damaged it."
Australia capitalised on Anderson's absence at Edgbaston, plundering the hosts for 487 in their second innings as they stormed to a 251-run win to go 1-0 up in the five-match series.
Paceman Pat Cummins said with Anderson out, his side was determined to make the rest of England's attack shoulder more overs, with Stuart Broad (44.4 overs), Chris Woakes (34) and allrounder Ben Stokes (40) all carrying the burden.
"It was obviously unfortunate for them that he (Anderson) went down early in the last game," Cummins said at Lord's on Sunday.
"It's no secret, he's a massive loss. He's the highest (Test fast-bowling) wicket-taker, arguably the best bowler in the Ashes the last few series.
"So as soon as he went down I felt like it was a real opportunity, especially that second innings, to try to get some overs into their bowlers and bat well, and luckily we did."
Express fast bowler Jofra Archer is set to replace Anderson for the second Test, which starts on Wednesday.
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval