James Anderson looked remarkably unhampered during a nets session on Tuesday for someone reportedly battling a calf injury.
Reports emerged on Tuesday that the 39-year-old paceman has been ruled out of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba starting Wednesday because of injury.
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However footage of Anderson ripping in during a nets session on Tuesday morning fuelled suggestions England are simply keeping the veteran star fresh for the second Test at the Adelaide Oval.
Anderson's record at the Gabba is horrendous considering he is the third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket history.
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.
"This doesn’t look like a 'massive blow' to me," cricket writer Daniel Brettig tweeted in regards to footage of Anderson bowling on Tuesday.
"More a recalibration of England’s resources now there will be two pink ball Tests."
— Dan-yule Brettig 🎄 (@danbrettig) December 6, 2021
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.
Considering Anderson's horror record at the Gabba, many believe England are simply keeping him on ice for the remainder of the series.
And England officials confirmed that theory later on Monday.
“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 was injured after bowling just four overs in the first Ashes Test in 2019 before missing the remainder of the series.
— Will Macpherson (@willis_macp) December 7, 2021
The 39-year-old admitted recently that while he'd like to play all five Tests in Australia, he'd be happy playing "three or four".
“I went into the India series in our summer, I got myself in the best shape possible to be able to play all five and, after then, you manage it as it goes," he told Fox Sports' 'Road to the Ashes' podcast.
"I’ll get myself in the best physical shape to play all five, the likelihood of playing all five at my age, to be honest any age in Australia, we’ve seen Australia do it themselves, they rotate, it does take a lot out of you, especially the heat at some of the venues, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
“I’ll be hopeful of playing five, but the likelihood is I’ll be happy playing three or four.”
England set to reveal first Test XI on Wednesday morning
England captain Joe Root is expected to wait until the toss to name his XI for the series opener.
Anderson's unavailability would leave Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson and Jack Leach as the tourists' leading options with the ball.
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.
Australia captain Pat Cummins confirmed Australia's XI on Sunday, backing Travis Head to bat at No.5 in favour of Usman Khawaja.
"I'm not into mind games, I'm just not in a position right now to name my team," Root said on Sunday.
"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."
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