Rossendale Free Press

Jimmy has big part to play in Ashes


JOS Buttler has backed his Lancashire team-mate James Anderson to play a big role in the Ashes - and beyond - despite England’s decision to stand their record wicket-taker down from the first Test as a fitness precaution.

Although passed fit, the Red Rose paceman was absent from the starting line-up for the curtainrai­ser at The Gabba, and will spend the next five days fine-tuning his skills in the nets while the two old rivals look to get the best of each other, and a dodgy weather forecast, in Brisbane.

Chris Silverwood and captain Joe Root have thrown their faith behind Surrey’s Ollie Pope, handing him the number five slot ahead of the more experience­d Jonny Bairstow.

The decision to shelve Anderson, the most prolific seamer in history, was met with surprise in Australia but with five Tests squeezed into the next six weeks, the veteran was always unlikely to be an ever-present.

Instead, he is gearing towards the next game - a day/night clash in Adelaide where England hope he can make the pink Kookaburra talk under lights. Memories of the 2019 Ashes - when he broke down on the first morning and was not seen again - also played their part.

But Buttler made it clear Anderson was still going to be a big factor Down Under and is not giving any indication that his long and illustriou­s career is winding down.

“Jimmy’s not going to play, but he is fit. It’s just precaution­ary,” said the

Lancashire wicketkeep­er.

“It’s obviously a very long series and we want a guy like that to be available to play as much of a part as possible. Jimmy’s been bowling and bowling well - I faced him in the nets, that’s been a great challenge going into a Test match.

“It seems that age is just a number for Jimmy at the minute. He’s in fantastic shape, his skills are brilliant as always and he still seems to be trying to improve and learn new things.

“That hunger doesn’t seem to be wavering at all, he still gets just as grumpy if he bowls a bad ball and his competitiv­eness is incredibly high in anything he does, let alone on a cricket field.

“I certainly see him wanting to continue as long as he can and there doesn’t feel like there’s anything in the way of him doing that at the moment.”

Anderson posted on Instagram: “Gutted to be missing the first Test but it’s a long series with a lot of cricket to be played.

“I’ll be doing all I can to help from the sidelines this week. The squad have been working tirelessly and we’re so excited to get started.”

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