James Anderson will miss the first Ashes Test in Brisbane with England unwilling to risk his fitness after such little preparation.
Anderson has a slight calf niggle and it became clear this week he was always more likely to play in the second Test at Adelaide. He bowled for 45 minutes in the Gabba nets on Monday and looked sharp but ultimately England have decided to wait until Adelaide and were always going to manage his workload.
England are expected to name a final 12 or 13 on Tuesday for the first Test with Anderson missing out. Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood and Ben Stokes are likely to be England’s attack for the first Test. Jack Leach is the other option, which could mean possibly Broad missing out, leaving England without their two leading all-time wicket-takers, a scenario Root may be unwilling to risk.
Anderson admitted in his Telegraph Sport column that he had never felt so under-prepared for a Test series. At 39, England are wary of picking him when under-bowled in case he sustains an injury that could rule him out for the series.
They are wary of repeating the mistake of the 2019 Ashes when he pulled up with a calf injury after just four overs of the first Test at Edgbaston and did not play again for the rest of the year.
Anderson also wrote in his column that he is aiming to play three of the five Ashes Tests, with Adelaide and the pink-ball match a priority. He registered his best bowling figures in Australia in Adelaide four years ago when he took 5-43, swinging the ball under the lights.
Joe Root, the England captain, was always prepared to rotate his attack knowing the five Tests in six weeks on hard Australian pitches would be an enormous physical challenge for his seam bowlers.
If Woakes takes the new ball, this match will be a big opportunity for him. He has an outstanding record at home, 94 wickets at an average of 22, but away from English pitches and the Dukes ball his average spirals upwards to 25 wickets at 51. He has improved bowling with the Kookaburra ball and playing at the Gabba is a big opportunity after a frustrating year in which he has played only one Test due to a combination of injury and rotation.
Root will miss Anderson, England’s most-capped cricketer, but has been planning for just this scenario. “We have tried to plan very meticulously for this series,” England's captain said. “One thing we have got for the bowling line-up in this first Test, we have a lot of information on them. They have been together for a long time, played a lot of Test matches, and it’s important we use that.”