Who should replace “irreplaceable” Anderson for 4th Ashes Test?
Like the real fighter he is, James Anderson didn’t dwell on his poor turnout at Lord’s in the second Ashes Test, where he was wicket-less, as he took a super six dismissals at Edgbaston in the first innings to help England to an 8-wicket win.
However, all his efforts came at an unfortunate cost, as the Lancashire swing-bowler injured his side to rule him out of the penultimate match of the series at Trent Bridge, which incidentally is one of his favourite grounds. Hosts England are 21/10 chances with Coral to win without him, though.
Anderson’s former national teammate and now-retired wicket-keeper Matt Prior described him as “irreplaceable”, and has called on Stuart Broad and Steven Finn to step up in a bid to help their side reclaim the Ashes.
“You can’t get away from how big a loss Jimmy is,” Prior said. “He is a quality performer. We know that and what he does as the leader of the England bowling attack makes him, frankly, irreplaceable.
“However, it gives someone like Stuart Broad the chance to now step up and lead that attack. I know Broady really well and I know he thrives off pressure, thrives on taking more responsibility and I think he will enjoy that challenge.”
But who will end up being picked to step into record England Test wicket-taker Anderson’s huge shoes for the fourth Test?
The national selectors have already announced a 14-man squad for Trent Bridge, with pacemen Mark Wood, Mark Footitt and Liam Plunkett seemingly in a three-man scrap for one place.
This trio can all offer unique attributes, and head coach Trevor Bayliss certainly has a lot to think about in picking the right man in a bid to finish off the series, with his side 2-1 up with two matches to go.
Wood is looking like the favourite to reclaim a spot in the England team, after having to withdraw for Edgbaston due to injury, although his replacement Finn capitalised on his chance and was Man of the Match.
The Durham fast bowler may not have the pace or height as some of his contemporaries, but certainly adds something different with his raw ability. Wood made a solid start to his Ashes career, taking four wickets at Cardiff, but managed just one at Lord’s.
Yorkshire star Plunkett could be the closest thing to Anderson, as he can offer experience and has the ability to swing it. He could be the fifth person from his county club to represent England this Ashes, and has taken seven wickets in four international innings at Trent Bridge before.
The final option is uncapped Derbyshire left-armer Footitt, who was original picked by Bayliss for England’s pre-Ashes training camp.
Footitt would be England’s only left-handed bowler, but could be the answer to Australia star duo Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc, who have caused the hosts a few problems.
Bringing in someone different in style could certainly make Baggy Greens batsmen think, as was proved at Edgbaston when they could handle the bouncers from Finn. Footitt also has genuine pace, as he can regularly hit the 90 mph mark.
Whoever gets the nod, they’ll know that they’ll have to make a similar impact to Finn in the third Test in order to keep their place for the last match and possible decider at The Oval. While Anderson is unavailable for this match, he is expected to be fit for the finale.
Despite the loss of Anderson, England are still the odds-on 8/11 favourites to win the series, which would be their fourth straight victory on home soil against the Aussies (3/1).