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England announce squad for first Ashes Test with James Anderson the big absentee

Joe Root’s England side are looking to end 35 years of misery at The Gabba when they take on Australia in the opening Ashes Test, which gets underway on Wednesday

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England skipper Root previews start of Ashes series

James Anderson and Jonny Bairstow are the big names missing from England’s first Ashes squad to take on old foes Australia in Brisbane.

England are looking to break their Gabba curse, having not won an Ashes Test at the Brisbane ground since all the way back in 1986 and they will have to do it without one of their star men.

England’s record wicket-taker Anderson will sit out the Ashes opener at the Gabba, which gets underway on Wednesday, after the tourists opted to hold him back as a precaution.

The 39-year-old was expected to lead the attack against the Aussies and had trained at full intensity during the last practice session before the Ashes gets going.

A report had previously suggested Anderson was set to miss out due to a minor calf problem, but a team spokesperson revealed the decision was instead to manage his workload.

James Anderson will sit out England’s Ashes opener against Australia at The Gabba
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“Jimmy is fit to play, and is not carrying an injury. With five Tests in six weeks the plan was to get him ready for the second Test in Adelaide,” said a team spokesperson.

“With the limited build-up we have had so far on the tour, both him and the management didn’t want to take the risk of him playing after what had happened in 2019 at Edgbaston, when he broke down on the first morning.

“He bowled at full capacity yesterday for just short of an hour and was in a good place physically.

“He will do the same again today at practice. He will stay with the Test group this week and work with the coaches at The Gabba.”

Elsewhere, England head coach Chris Silverwood and captain Joe Root have opted to put their faith in Ollie Pope over Bairstow – with the Surrey batter coming in at No 5.

And England will also make a late call on whether or not to select spinner Jack Leach in their opening Ashes side against Australia.

If England do opt for Leach’s variety, Anderson’s new ball partner Stuart Broad could also watch on from the sidelines – with Root’s men having named a 12-man squad.

Despite Anderson’s absence from the first squad, Jos Buttler insisted that his England legend teammate will still play a big part Down Under as they desperately look to reclaim the Urn.

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

“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.”

England 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.

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