Ashes 2019: Woakes not holding out hope of Anderson return

By Sports Desk August 03, 2019

Chris Woakes does not appear to have much hope of "the best fast bowler who's ever lived" James Anderson being available to play a part on day four of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.

Though Anderson batted as England were bowled out for 374, giving them a first-innings lead of 90, he did not join the hosts as they returned to field on day three.

In his absence England reduced Australia to 124-3, the tourists 34 runs ahead when bad light stopped play, with Steve Smith unbeaten on 46 having rescued them with a remarkable 144 in the first innings.

England need to find a way of dislodging Smith if they are to set up a manageable run chase, and Woakes indicated they will have to do so without their leading Test wicket-taker.

Asked how he felt when he learned Anderson would not be on the field for Australia's second innings, Woakes told a media conference: "I was gutted for Jimmy, he's obviously dying to play more than anyone and wants to play more than anyone.

"But it wasn't right which was unfortunate for him and unfortunate for us as a team with him being the best fast bowler that's ever lived, in my opinion, with the amount of wickets he's taken and all that.

"[His absence] is a bit of a blow but at the same time us as a unit have to go out there and try to do the job.

"Moving forward, I actually don't know [whether he will be available on Sunday]. The fact he hasn't taken much part in the game so far doesn't look too promising but I actually don't know.

"It's a well-poised Ashes Test match. It's been a great Test match so far, reasonably even. We're pretty happy having them 30 for three.

"If we can start well in the morning, two big wickets up front could be quite crucial. All of a sudden if you have them 50 or 60 for five, it's a big turning point. Tomorrow morning, as always, is important."

Woakes put on a stand of 65 with Stuart Broad to help build a decent lead after England had lost four wickets for 18 runs and slumped to 300-8, and Woakes knows how vital those extra runs could prove.

"That partnership with Stuart, 60 runs or so, could be quite a big part of the game," he added.

"Pleased with the way we played and it was quite important we put on a partnership there because at that point it wasn't looking like we were getting too big of a lead."

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