Birmingham, England captain Joe Root defended his decision to play James Anderson in the first Test, despite questions over the bowler’s fitness. Anderson, 37, was missing in action a month before the Ashes after he picked up a calf injury playing for Lancashire in the County Championship. Upon his return to the England side, the fast bowler pulled up on the first morning at Edgbaston, able to bowl just four overs in the match. His absence was a huge blow to England’s attack, which struggled to contain the Australian batsmen as the visitors romped to a 251-run win.
“He passed every medical test – he was fit to play,” Root explained his decision after the match. “And it’s one of those freak scenarios where he pulled up. I think because it’s the same calf, we’re not sure if it’s a slightly different injury or what yet. We’ll have to wait and see what the scans say.””It’s an easy thing to look back on and say we’d have done things differently, but he passed all of the testing, as I said, and it was a unanimous decision for him to play,” he added.
Anderson, England’s most successful bowler in Tests with 575 scalps, did manage to bat in both innings, albeit with restricted mobility. However, it is feared that he might have ruined his chances of playing in the second Test next week. In case he fails to recover in time, there is a strong possibility that Jofra Archer will replace him, an ICC report on said. Archer, who was England’s leading wicket-taker in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, is recovering from an injury himself, but has been tested in domestic games.
“With Jofra, we’re in a slightly different situation where he’ll have played a lot of cricket in between and we’ll have a clearer idea of where he’s at,” Root said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re very clear about how we approach the next game and not make too many emotional decisions. We’ll sit down as a selection panel and pick a squad from there.”
The captain was also not too disheartened with the loss in the first Test and insisted that England can bounce back. “I think we’ve got the confidence that we need,” he said. “Obviously we’d prefer to be 1-0 up, but [we’ve got] four games and plenty of time to think things through before the next one.” The second Test gets under way from August 14, at Lord’s.