England will go into the first Ashes Test in Brisbane without veteran spearhead Jimmy Anderson.
Anderson’s omission from the tourists’ team was confirmed on Tuesday but the suggestion the 39-year-old had suffered a calf injury was quickly rebuked.
“Jimmy is not going to play, but he is fit,” England wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler said.
“It’s obviously a very long series and want a guy like that to be available to play as much part in it as as possible.
“It’s just a bit precautionary.”
A great honour to lead England in an Ashes series in Australia.
We’ll give everything to make you proud back home. pic.twitter.com/gH5ewu73pZ
— Joe Root (@root66) December 7, 2021
The visitors have included Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson and Jack Leach in a 12-man squad for the first Test.
Haseeb Hameed will open alongside Rory Burns, as expected, while Jonny Bairstow has been dumped from the XI that represented England in its most recent Test.
Joe Root’s side has backed 23-year-old Ollie Pope to bat at No.6 ahead of Bairstow, who scored a Test century at the WACA during England’s 2017-18 tour.
England may be tempted to pick four pacemen, although Ben Stokes’ inclusion is a boost to left-arm spinner Leach’s hopes of a call-up.
“Any team that takes the field, we’re confident in. That’s why the guys are here. That’s why the selectors have picked the squad,” Buttler said.
“Of course Broad and Anderson are brilliant performers for a long period of time, and they’re going to play a huge part in the series as well.
“Whichever XI we take the field with, we’ll be very confident.”
The absence of England’s all-time leading wicket-taker Anderson, who has claimed 632 scalps in a storied career, is a major blow to the tourists’ hopes of an opening win.
One word to describe @patcummins30‘s overriding emotion: excited!
— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) December 6, 2021
Anderson, who has played 18 Tests in Australia and was part of England’s victorious 2010-11 tour, should be fit for next week’s pink-ball clash at Adelaide Oval.
Buttler confirmed Stokes was fully fit, having built up his bowling workload in recent weeks, as England eyes a boilover at the Gabba.
“Any time you come and play in Australia as an England team, it’s a huge challenge,” he said.
“Australia tend to play well here, but they obviously lost to India recently at this venue.
“Which proves it’s not impossible to beat them here.”
England XII: Haseeb Hameed, Rory Burns, Dawid Malan, Joe Root (capt), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood.