James Anderson has emerged as an injury doubt for the first Investec Test against Pakistan next month due to a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade.
The ECB confirmed he will miss Lancashire’s County Championship matches against Middlesex and Nottinghamshire and that his availability will be confirmed nearer the opening Test at Lord’s on July 14.
Anderson picked up the injury during the third Test against Sri Lanka earlier this month although it is understood not to be as serious as other types of stress fractures.
“Due to the nature of the injury, Jimmy’s availability for the Pakistan Test series, commencing on July 14, will be determined following ongoing management and review by both the ECB and Lancashire’s medical teams,” an ECB statement said.
Anderson, England’s leading Test wicket-taker, claimed 21 wickets at 10.80 in the three Tests against Sri Lanka, and despite the strength of England’s pace-bowling stocks, it would be a significant blow to lose him. In 10 Tests against Pakistan, Anderson has taken 45 wickets at 17.06 – his lowest average against any team.
Anderson has had a slightly chequered injury record over the last year. He missed the final two Tests of last year’s Ashes series with a side strain and then the first Test against South Africa, in Durban, due to a calf injury.
Should Anderson be forced to miss the opening Test against Pakistan, he could be replaced by Ben Stokes, who made his return for Durham in a T20 on Friday night, following knee surgery. However, Stokes is not yet ready to return to bowling duties, and England will be reluctant to rush back such a precious asset.
Jake Ball, the uncapped Nottinghamshire seamer, was part of England’s squad throughout the series against Sri Lanka and would be another likely candidate to step in.