Cricket: England's Anderson out of Ashes Test as Cummins warns Australia 'tough to beat'

BRISBANE (AFP) – Bowling great Jimmy Anderson was on Tuesday (Dec 7) left out of the England team for the first Ashes Test as Pat Cummins warned his Australian side boasting some of “the all-time greats” would be tough to beat.

The home team head into the Ashes opener in Brisbane on Wednesday defending the hallowed urn and with their arch-rivals having a dismal record in Australia, losing nine of their last 10 Tests.

The task for Joe Root’s side was made harder on the eve of the Ashes when veteran Anderson – Test cricket’s most prolific fast bowler with 632 wickets – was not named in England’s 12-man match squad for the opening clash at the Gabba.

Anderson was not risked after reportedly suffering a minor calf problem, although England did not give any reason for his omission.

But wicketkeeper Jos Buttler told the BBC: “Jimmy’s not going to play but he is fit. It’s just precautionary.”

England are keen to manage the 39-year-old’s workload for what will be a gruelling five-match series, with the second Test starting in Adelaide in just nine days’ time.

That will be a pink-ball, day-night match with conditions expected to be more helpful to Anderson’s swing bowling.

His absence leaves England to choose four bowlers from Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad and Jack Leach to form the attack alongside returning all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has barely played since July.

England were already without injured pacemen Jofra Archer, who is recovering from an elbow injury, and Olly Stone who has undergone back surgery.

A decision on whether to include spinner Leach or go for an all-seam attack will be made after a last look at the Gabba wicket before the toss on Wednesday morning.

“He’s obviously a great player and it’s a shame that he won’t be out there tomorrow, but it doesn’t change what we are going to do,” said new Australian captain Cummins of Anderson.

Cummins, who took the reins when Tim Paine quit over a text-messaging scandal, nominated Root, the world’s No. 1 Test batsman, as the key wicket for Australia.

“He’s going to be right up there as the biggest wicket, he’s had a really good last 12 months or so, but I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s going to make it or break it for them,” he said.

Cummins did suggest England could struggle against an Australia side that include superstar batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner and bowling giants Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon.

“I look around our team and we’ve got a pretty special side,” he said, although Australia haven’t played a Test since January due to Covid.

“We’ve got some of the greats of all time of Australian cricket in our changing room and when you get most of them clicking we’re going to be a pretty tough team to beat.

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