James Anderson out of first Ashes Test as 'injury' concerns eased

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Joe Root, Stuart Broad and James Anderson, pictured here ahead of the first Ashes Test.
Joe Root, Stuart Broad and James Anderson look on ahead of the first Ashes Test. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

England have shot down reports veteran paceman James Anderson is injured, revealing he will miss the first Ashes Test for strategic reasons.

English news outlet The Cricketer reported on Tuesday that 39-year-old Anderson has a calf injury and will not be fit to play the first Test at the Gabba starting Wednesday.

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England officials have since confirmed that Anderson won't play but denied that he is injured.

“Jimmy is fit to play. The plan was to get him ready for the 2nd Test in Adelaide," a spokesperson said.

"With the build-up so far on tour, both him and the management didn’t want to risk him playing after what had happened in 2019 at Edgbaston."

Anderson bowled just four overs in the 2019 series in England before suffering a calf strain that saw him miss the remainder of the series.

He has just seven wickets in four matches in Brisbane at a woeful average at 75.14.

However he is deadly with the pink ball under lights and terrorised Australia's batsman during the day-night Test in Adelaide in 2017.

After Perth was stripped of the fifth Test on Monday because of Western Australia's strict border and quarantine rules, it is believed either Melbourne or Hobart will host the series finale as a day-night Test.

With two pink-ball Tests on the cards, England are unwilling to risk having Anderson unavailable if he is injured in Brisbane - his least-successful Australian venue by far.

Chris Woakes and Mark Wood have reportedly been given the nod in England's XI, with Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson and Jack Leach reportedly vying for the final two spots.

The visitors may be tempted to pick four pacemen, although Ben Stokes' inclusion is a boost to left-arm spinner Leach's hopes of a call-up.

Joe Root hesitant to reveal England's side for first Test

England captain Joe Root was hesitant to reveal his XI for the first Test when speaking to the media in Brisbane but insisted there's no mind games going on.

Newly appointed Australian captain Pat Cummins took a bold step on Sunday by confirming who will be in the hosts' XI at the Gabba, with Travis Head returning to the team and Alex Carey on debut.

Fast bowler Mitchell Starc has also been given the nod despite some calls for Jhye Richardson to replace the left-armer.

In contrast, England's XI remains up in the air, with question marks over the make up of their batting order.

The big talking points are whether the tourists retain Haseeb Hameed from their most recent Test against India in September or change the top three, and if Ollie Pope or Jonny Bairstow bats at No.6.

James Anderson, pictured here during an England squad practice session at the Gabba.
James Anderson looks on during an England squad practice session at the Gabba. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Root brushed off any suggestion keeping his cards close to his chest was a way of keeping the Australians guessing.

"I'm not into mind games, I'm just not in a position right now to name my team," he said.

"Fair play that they've announced their XI. Doesn't really concern me or change anything from our perspective.

"We'll conduct our business how we want to and let you know when we're ready."

Meanwhile, Head isn't bothered by the uncertainty over just who he'll be facing on Wednesday, confident the team will be prepared for whatever options the tourists go with.

"Prepare for all of them," Head said.

"That's what we've done really well is making sure we're coming in the best prepared we possibly can ... it's not like we're going to be surprised by anything."

with AAP

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