James Anderson will miss the first Ashes Test 2021-22

The most successful wicket-taker in England's Test history will not play in the opening Test of the Ashes 2021-22, starting on Wednesday, 8 December. An England spokesperson confirmed that Anderson is not injured. Instead, the decision to give rest to the 39-year-old is related to managing his workload ahead of what will be a tough five-Test series.

“Jimmy is fit to play, and is not carrying an injury," an England spokesperson said. "With five Tests in six weeks, the plan was to get him ready for the second Test in Adelaide.

“With the limited build-up we have had so far on the tour, both him and the management didn’t want to take the risk of him playing after what had happened in 2019 at Edgbaston when he broke down on the first morning”.

Back in Ashes 2019, Anderson injured his calf during the opening Test in Edgbaston, and England had to play the rest of the match without him. After playing all the home Tests against India and New Zealand this year, Anderson bounced back despite his age. 

“He bowled at full capacity yesterday for just short of an hour and was in a good place physically," the spokesperson added. "He will do the same again today at practice.

“He will stay with the Test group this week and work with the coaches at the Gabba rather than playing for the Lions.”

It is also possible that England could be without the other half of their veteran duo, with Stuart Broad, 35, having missed a significant part of England's home summer due to injury. Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, and Chris Woakes could join Woakes in the line-up. The fact that Ben Stokes will play for England again after taking a break for mental health reasons in July is a boost to the side, particularly given the balance he brings to the team.