England have received a pre-Ashes boost with the news that their record wicket-taker James Anderson could be back bowling in a fortnight.
A scan on Friday evening revealed that England’s Test attack spearhead suffered a grade one strain to his right calf while playing for Lancashire in their County Championship draw with Durham at Sedbergh three days earlier.
Anderson has been told the injury requires a two-week recovery period, jeopardising his participation in the four-day Test versus Ireland at Lord’s, starting on July 24, but maintaining prospects of him taking the field against Australia on August 1, two days after his 37th birthday. A grade two strain would have kept him sidelined until mid-August.
Given the undiminished influence of a pace bowler with 575 Test wickets to his name across a 16-year career, the England management are unlikely to take any risks for the historic fixture against the Irish.
If they err on the side of caution, it would potentially mean sending him into the five-match Ashes series on the back of a 30-day break from competitive action, as Lancashire’s only County Championship fixture in the interim is Sussex’s visit to Old Trafford next Saturday.
Such a prospect should not overly concern them, however, given Anderson’s experience and the fact he has been in such rich form this summer: his 30 Division Two wickets have cost a paltry 9.36 runs apiece.
Equally, his combatting of injury niggles has been exemplary in recent years.
Despite requiring cortisone injections in both his ankle and shoulder ahead of the 2018 international season, he remained ever-present versus Pakistan and India, accounting for 33 victims in seven appearances.