England wait on James Anderson’s fitness as batsmen look to make Ashes statement
England’s batsmen will hope to follow the lead of Australia centurion Steve Smith on day two of the first Ashes Test, with fingers crossed over James Anderson’s fitness.
The rivals traded blows on an enthralling opening day to the five-Test series, with the hosts taking all 10 wickets after losing the toss but missing the chance to assume complete control thanks to a brilliantly defiant 144 from Smith.
His knock rescued the tourists from 122 for eight to 284 all out and showed that nothing – from his year-long ban for ball-tampering to the wall of boos that followed him around Edgbaston – had detracted from his class at the crease.
England might well have finished things earlier had Anderson, having bowled only four overs, not suffered a right calf injury that saw him leave the field at lunch.
“I don’t know what the next steps are, the scans could show it’s not much and he could be able to bowl in the second innings or it could show something and it’s a couple of weeks,” said Stuart Broad, who led the attack with five for 86 in Anderson’s absence.
“He is distraught. He actually came and said sorry to all the bowlers, not that he’s got anything to be sorry for.
“He feels like he’s let the bowling group down but he hasn’t. Niggles are a part of fast bowling.”
England’s openers, the under-pressure Rory Burns and the Test rookie Jason Roy, were asked to face an awkward two-over spell before stumps and added 10 to the total without undue drama.
They will resume on Friday morning, leading what Broad hopes will be a positive day for the top order.
“We don’t know how good a score that will be until we’ve batted on it,” he said.
“Day two here is normally the best time to bat so that is a positive and the way Steve Smith played showed runs can be scored on that pitch.
“I’m pretty exhausted, I’d forgotten how nerve-wracking and tense Ashes cricket is, but after losing the toss and bowling you’d take bowling a team out for less than 300 every day of the week.”
The opening day of the series belonged to Smith, though, with his first Test knock since the sandpaper scandal 16 months ago destined to go down as a classic.
Speaking emotionally afterwards, he revealed how far he had come during his year-long ban.
“There were times throughout the last 15 months where I didn’t know if I was ever going to play cricket again,” said the former Australia captain.
“I lost a bit of love for it at one point. I’ve never had those feelings ever before, I didn’t have a great love for the game, it was there for a little while and fortunately that love has come back.
“I’m really grateful to be in this position now, playing for Australia again and doing what I love.
“It’s got to be one of my best hundreds. It’s been a long time coming but I’m sort of lost for words, just really proud that I was able to help pull the team out of a bit of trouble.”