England have taken a massive hit on the eve of the opening Ashes Test with veteran fast bowler Jimmy Anderson ruled out with a calf injury.
A day after England captain Joe Root refused to unveil his team for the opening clash with Australia at the Gabba, reports emerged that Anderson, 39 would not play.
It leaves England to choose between Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson and Stuart Broad as their frontline seam bowlers.
England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, Anderson’s injury is not thought to be particularly serious and he could be available for the second Test in Adelaide.
In 18 Ashes Tests in Australia, Anderson, who is on his final tour, has taken 60 wickets at an average of 35.43.
He only bowled four overs in the first Test of the 2019 Ashes in England before missing the entire series through injury.
Root on Monday brushed off any suggestion keeping his cards close to his chest was a way of keeping the Australians guessing by not naming his team.
“I’m not into mind games, I’m just not in a position right now to name my team,” he said.
“Fair play that they‘ve announced their XI. Doesn’t really concern me or change anything from our perspective.
“We’ll conduct our business how we want to and let you know when we’re ready.”
Australian batsman Travis Head said the home side was prepared for whatever options the tourists went with.
“Prepare for all of them,” Head said.
“That’s what we’ve done really well is making sure we’re coming in the best prepared we possibly can … it’s not like we’re going to be surprised by anything.”