(Reuters) - England’s World Cup success came with a new-look pace attack but they are likely to pin their Ashes hopes on the tried and trusted Jimmy Anderson.
England’s all-time top wicket-taker, with 575 victims in a test career dating back to 2003, will turn 37 before Thursday’s first test against Australia at Edgbaston.
The Lancashire seamer expects to have recovered from a “low-grade calf muscle tear” in time for the start of the Ashes series and is expected to take on the new-ball duties.
The pace of Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes was a key part of England’s World Cup triumph but with Wood out injured and Archer battling a side strain, Anderson and his long-standing new-ball partner Stuart Broad look set to give Joe Root’s attack a familiar look.
No other seam or swing bowler has taken more wickets in test match cricket than Anderson and he is particularly effective in English conditions.
Former Aussie paceman Glenn McGrath, who saw his long-standing record of 563 overtaken by Anderson, believes the Englishman will be a key factor in the series, even if some believe it will be his last against the traditional rivals.
“On home soil with the Dukes ball, he’s the best in the world bowling in those conditions. He is a big player and if he has a big series for England, Australia will find it tough,” said McGrath.
Anderson’s 575 wickets have come in 148 Tests and place him fourth on the all-time list behind spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.
Root could well use the pace of Archer in short blasts while relying on Anderson to move the ball through the air and off the seam.
The last time Anderson faced the Australians in an Edgbaston test, in 2015, he took six for 47 in a devastating performance that bowled out the tourists for 136 in their first innings before England went on to win by eight wickets.
He also took five wickets in his first test at the venue against the Australians in 2009.
Reporting by Simon Evans; editing by Clare Fallon