England’s James Anderson to miss first Test against Australia

England fast bowler James Anderson is set to miss the first Ashes Test against Australia at the Gabba.

The tourists look likely to manage the workload of the 39-year-old, with the series now on course to include two day-night Tests.

Anderson’s absence would then leave England with a decision on the balance of their attack.

They could opt for four frontline pace bowlers, or include the left-arm spin of Jack Leach.

That decision looks to hinge Ben Stokes’ ability to play a full part with the ball.

Stokes has not played any meaningful cricket since July, so England could be reluctant to ask him to fill the role of a fourth seamer.

If Stokes is deemed fit enough to bowl his full quota of overs, it could open the door for Leach and leave pace bowlers Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson vying for three places.

Doubts over the fitness of players have not been helped by England’s preparations, with rain limiting them to only two full days of action.

Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, managed only four overs during the last Ashes series in the UK in 2019 before being ruled out with a calf problem.

Writing in his newspaper column for the Telegraph, he said he was targeting playing three Tests on this tour, his fifth trip down under.

England will want to use his skills in the second, a day-nighter in Adelaide, which begins only four days after the first ends.

With the fifth Test being moved from Perth, a further pink-ball match looks set to be added to the schedule.

England are looking to regain the Ashes, which Australia retained with a 2-2 draw in the UK in 2019.

The first Test begins on Wednesday 00:00 GMT with Alex Carey set to make his debut for Australia after being called into the squad as a replacement for Tim Paine.

England have not won at the Gabba since 1986, though Australia did surrender a 33-year unbeaten record on that ground when they lost to India in January. (Courtesy BBC)