Where Jimmy Anderson’s absence leaves England after fresh Ashes injury blow | Cricket | Sport


And just about the only one which emerges is that at least at Lord’s next Wednesday England will have a full complement of bowlers to choose from.

Such is the form of Steve Smith that whoever lines up for England in St John’s Wood may still get smacked to all parts north, east, south and west.

And there is no guarantee that even a fully fit Jimmy would have halted his progress in Birmingham, London or further forward.

But if the disastrous injury to him and the car-crash first Test ensures anything it is that England have to make sure they go in fit and firing.

First on their list of things to do is not to make the same mistake again with Jofra Archer.

The exciting 90mph man ended the World Cup with a side strain and although he has breezed through a T20 game for Sussex, he has to come through a significant number of overs playing for Sussex 2nd XI in the three day reserves game if he is to figure.

And we are talking not four of a Blast outing but 15 or 20 overs of hard slog (if Gloucestershire twos can last that long, that is) which proves he is not going to break down.

Even if he does, Archer is an untested and untried quantity. 

Yes he has proved that he is a superb white-ball operator but framing him in as Ashes saviour is loading too much strain on his shoulders.

Likewise Jack Leach whose left arm orthodox spin could pose some questions for Smith – Rangana Herath’s left arm has done for him five times in six innings and is as close to a nemesis as the Australian has in Test cricket.

For all that Smith may answer them with a dismissive shrug Leach should come in for Moeen Ali who looks all out of confidence at the moment.

For what is worth, my call would be to opt for Sam Curran whose left-arm seam could angle uncomfortably for Smith and I would drop Joe Denly – a casualty through necessity for Lord’s not permanently.

Both changes would most likely be cost neutral in terms of runs but would give options to get through the Aussie line up.

It must not be forgotten that England had Australia 122-8 so even without their leader the bowling unit were effective and functioning for all that the longer the Test went on the more the absence of Anderson gripped.

It told in the extra overs Ben Stokes had to bowl and there were suspicions that the workload had taken a toll on Chris Woakes as well with him curiously underused in the second innings.

Losing Anderson, England’s leading wicket taker and the most skilful and successful bowler on English soil ever, is not good news but if selectors learn the lesson from his injury, all is not lost.

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