England’s leading wicket-taker James Anderson has been rested for the first Ashes Test against Australia, with Ollie Pope preferred to Jonny Bairstow in the 12-man squad. Anderson, 39, is not injured but England are keen to manage his workload.
Anderson is aiming to play in three of the five Tests on his fifth trip. The second Test, a day-nighter in Adelaide, begins only four days after the end of the first Test and may favour Anderson and England more with more movement expected for the bowlers.
“Jimmy’s won’t play but he is fit. It’s just precautionary,” said wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. “It seems that age is just a number for Jimmy at the minute. He’s in fantastic shape, his skills are great as always and he is always looking to improve and learn new things.”
“It’s going to be a very long series and we want him to be available to play as much of a part as possible”. Anderson pulled up injured on the first morning of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston in 2019.
He took to Instagram and said: “Gutted to be missing the first Test but it’s a long series with a lot of cricket to be played.”
England coach Chris Silverwood has opted for potential over experience in preferring 23-year-old Pope, who averages 32.16 in his first 20 caps, over 32-year-old Bairstow who has been in indifferent form since his Test recall earlier this year.
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.
Squad in full
Joe Root (c), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wkt), Haseeb Hameed, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood