England rocked by huge blow on Ashes eve

England has been rocked by an injury to James Anderson on the eve of the Ashes series, with a calf problem set to keep the 39-year-old out of the first Test in Brisbane.

The Cricketer reports that Anderson, the third highest wicket-taker in Test history, will miss the match, with team management not willing to risk him, although the injury is not deemed to be serious.

He's expected to be fit for the second Test in Adelaide.

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Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are both reportedly set to play, leaving three players in contention for the final two bowling spots - Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson and Jack Leach.

Anderson was England's leading wicket-taker on their last tour of Australia, taking 17 wickets at an average of 27.82, including 5-43 in the second innings in Adelaide.

The veteran bowled just four overs in the 2019 Ashes series in England before being sidelined with a calf strain.

He hasn't played since England's Test match against India at The Oval in early September, with Brisbane's recent wet weather denying him the opportunity to build up his match fitness.

Anderson has taken 104 Ashes wickets in his career, at an average of 34.57, however his record at the Gabba is mediocre, with four Tests in Brisbane yielding just seven wickets at an average of 75.14.

The 166-Test veteran was never likely to play all five Ashes Tests given the condensed nature of the series, and with the possibility a second pink-ball match will be added in place of Perth's match, the England team are likely erring on the side of caution, saving Anderson for venues where he's expected to be more dangerous.

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