James Anderson set to miss England’s Ashes opener in Brisbane

James Anderson

England’s record wicket-taker James Anderson is set to miss the Ashes opener in Brisbane.

The 39-year-old seamer was inked in to lead the attack against Australia at the Gabba on Wednesday and trained as normal in the tourists’ last major practice session 48 hours ahead of the match.

But a report in The Cricketer suggests Anderson has picked up a minor calf problem which will see him miss the first Test.

The PA news agency understands the decision has been made to leave him out of the squad, with a view to having him available by the time the series moves on to a day/night contest in Adelaide.

Earlier, Anderson was looking forward to a renewed battle with Australian batsman Steven Smith during the Ashes.

Smith has been relatively prolific against England in Test cricket, while Anderson has become the third-highest wicket-taker in the history of the longest format of the international game.

Anderson vs Smith

“As a bowler you always look at the best player, and for me over the last three, four or five years, Smith’s been Australia’s best player,” Anderson told Fox Cricket’s Road to the Ashes podcast.

“He’s been the one they rely on for their volume of runs, obviously supported by guys around him like David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne recently. But he’s been their go-to in the last few years, so he’ll be the one that we will be keen to get out early.”

The five Tests for the 2021-22 Ashes series will be played in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Anderson has taken 60 Test wickets in Australia – and 632 in total.

“We’ve got to start well. The Gabba in particular is huge for us. If we can get one-up on a few batters early, then that can have a real snowball effect throughout the series,” he added.

“Bowling in Australia is not necessarily more difficult, it’s just different. In England the Dukes swings more often than not, and with the wickets we play on, you can get some seam movement as well.

“But you’re not going to get much swing with a Kookaburra, so it’s just about trying to hit good areas in the Ashes. You’ve just got to be relentless, and so accurate. And that’s where people do struggle.”