James Anderson insists that “the hunger is still there” to keep playing as he prepares for the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Oval.

England have named an unchanged squad for the Test, where they are aiming to level the series against Australia, but veteran seamer Anderson has been under the microscope.

The 40-year-old has taken just four wickets at an average of 76.75 across the series, including one at his home ground Old Trafford last week, but he is still determined to keep giving his best for England.

Writing in his column for the Daily Telegraph, Anderson said: “I have certainly not had the returns I would have liked in this series. Everyone goes through a lean patch, but you just do not want it to be in the most high-profile series we play.

“I keep talking to the coach and captain. They want me around, so as long as I am still hungry, want to put in the work, I will keep trying to give my best for the team.

“That is exactly where I am at the minute. I love playing Test cricket as much as I ever have and this is my favourite period as an England cricketer.

“If I was bowling horrendously, with my pace down and hobbling around in the field, I might be thinking differently. But the hunger is still there. I feel like I am bowling well, that I can still offer something to the team.”

James Anderson is as fit as ever and could play professional cricket until he is 50, according to England and Lancashire team-mate Saqib Mahmood.

Veteran Anderson, who celebrates his 41st birthday on Sunday, has been included in his country’s unchanged 14-man squad for this week’s Ashes finale against Australia.

Amid speculation it may be his Test swansong, all eyes will be on how much of a role he plays at the Kia Oval after England’s hopes of reclaiming the urn were wiped out by wet weather in the fourth match.

Sidelined Mahmood, who on Tuesday will undergo a scan on the recurrence of a stress fracture in his back, believes Anderson is far from finished, despite struggling for wickets in the current series, which Australia lead 2-1.

“I’d like to think he’s going to keep playing on after this,” Mahmood told the PA news agency, speaking at the launch of KP Snacks’ community cricket pitches initiative which will fund 100 new pitches over the next three years.

“He’s been so consistent, he’s just had a little blip over the last few weeks and I am sure he will come good.

“You don’t get that many wickets without blips in your career, so I don’t think that is any biggie.

“In a few years’ time after he retires or whenever that may be – he’ll probably play until he’s 50 now – is when you’ll realise I was around a very special cricketer and he’ll go down as one of the best in the game.”

Asked if Anderson is capable of continuing for another decade, Mahmood replied: “Probably. Because he’s as fit as ever. He just seems to keep playing and keep getting better.

“His record over the last 12, 18 months is as good as anyone’s, I would imagine.”

While Anderson’s international future is once again a topic for debate, fellow seamers Mahmood and Reece Topley are on the comeback trail with eyes on this autumn’s ICC Cricket World Cup in India.

Topley, whose career has been littered with injuries, expects to make his return from a dislocated shoulder next week when Northern Superchargers take on Birmingham Phoenix at Headingley in their opening fixture of this season’s Hundred.

The 29-year-old left-armer believes fast bowlers across the sport will be seeking the advice of Anderson when he eventually does retire.

“He’s almost like a unicorn in the sense that it’s unheard of,” Topley said of the longevity of Anderson, who has taken a remarkable 689 wickets in 182 Test appearances – both England records.

“There’s no magic pill or anything like that, it’s just hard work.

“He’s a master of his craft, he’s worked at his craft and that mindset has surely translated into looking after his body as well.

“I’m sure every fast bowler is going to have him on speed dial, if he does hang them up, to tap into some of his secrets.

“I know he’s had a relatively quiet series but he’s obviously got the class and it wasn’t that long ago that we were all singing his praises so I’m sure he’s not far off a hatful of wickets, no matter if it is his last Test.”

:: KP Snacks are funding 100 new community cricket pitches over the next three years. To find out more and search for a pitch visit: .everyonein.co.uk/pitchfinder

England have named an unchanged squad for the final Ashes Test of the summer with a decision now required over James Anderson’s involvement at the Kia Oval.

The Manchester weather washed out play on Sunday and wrecked England’s hopes of setting up a winner-takes-all decider this week.

The draw means Australia have retained the urn with the series at 2-1 with one Test to play, but England will try to rally as a group and win in London to ensure a second successive home Ashes ends 2-2.

An unchanged 14-man squad has been selected for the fifth Test, which begins on Thursday, and all eyes will be on what England do with Anderson.

Veteran Anderson, who will turn 41 on Sunday, has struggled to take wickets throughout the series, picking up four scalps in three Tests at an average of 76.75.

He only claimed a solitary wicket in the drawn Old Trafford match and, after being rested for England’s victory at Headingley, the return to fitness of Ollie Robinson following a back spasm will leave captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum with a tough call to make in the capital.

If Anderson is left out at the Kia Oval, it could mean he has appeared in England whites for the last time with a decision required by the seamer and the selectors regarding his role over the next 12 months with central contracts set to be handed out later this year.

Mark Wood and Chris Woakes, who did struggle with stiffness towards the end of the Old Trafford Test, have impressed since being drafted into the XI while Stuart Broad is the leading wicket-taker in the whole Ashes.

Sussex seamer Robinson claimed 10 wickets in the first three Tests of the series and Josh Tongue caught the eye with his aggression in his one appearance against Australia at Lord’s.

England’s batting line-up is set to be unchanged with Moeen Ali to continue at three, but a call on Anderson and the other seamers will be made over the next two days.

James Anderson has got the nod to return to England’s Ashes line-up on his home ground of Old Trafford, while Moeen Ali will bat at number three in an otherwise-unchanged side.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the statistical significance of both decisions.

“Bowling from the James Anderson End…”

Anderson took only three wickets in the first two Tests of this series before sitting out at Headingley but his return at his home for his 23-year county career, where he has even emulated fellow Lancashire and England seam bowling great Brian Statham by having an end named after him, was surely inevitable.

His Test record on the ground adds to his case, with 37 wickets at an average of 22.03 in his 10 previous appearances.

That does not include any five-wicket innings, though he took four for 38 – and seven for 54 in the match – against South Africa in 2017 and another four-wicket haul against New Zealand in 2008.

It will be only Anderson’s second Ashes Test at Old Trafford. The first, a decade ago, saw him toil at the hands of centurion Michael Clarke in the first innings before picking up two wickets in a frantic second innings of declaration batting as Australia tried in vain to beat the rain.

Ollie Robinson’s back spasms during the third Test made him the obvious fall guy, though he has a creditable 10 wickets at 28.40 in the current series and took four for 43 in last year’s Old Trafford win over South Africa.

Stuart Broad has an even better record than Anderson in Old Trafford Tests, with 44 wickets at 19.25 including two six-wicket hauls, and is the leading wicket-taker in this series with 16 at 24.93.

That is one wicket more than Australia captain Pat Cummins, while Mitchell Starc has 13. Nathan Lyon (nine) and Josh Hazlewood (eight) follow Robinson on that list, with the next places occupied by two England seamers who only came in at Headingley but quickly cemented their places.

Mark Wood produced astonishing pace to take five for 34 in the first innings and seven in the match, while he blazed 24 runs in England’s first innings and 16 in the second to see them over the line along with fellow series debutant Chris Woakes.

The Warwickshire all-rounder took three wickets in each innings and finished unbeaten on 32 as he struck the winning runs. Woakes also has 23 wickets at 18.48 in five Old Trafford Tests, with Wood set to play his first.

Promotion for Moeen

Moeen put his hand up to bat at number three in the second innings at Headingley and though he made just five, the experiment will be repeated.

It solves an England conundrum in Ollie Pope’s absence, with Harry Brook having made just three in the first innings, while Joe Root is most comfortable at number four, but has not been a productive spot for Moeen in Tests.

He has batted everywhere in the top nine in his 66 games, but mainly at six, seven or eight. That means some small statistical samples elsewhere but at number three he averages 13.14, consisting of 92 runs in seven innings. A strike rate of 32.39 is also hardly in keeping with England’s aggressive philosophy.

September 2018’s Test against India at the Oval accounts for 70 of his runs at number three, with scores of 50 and 20. He made nine against them in the previous Test and five in 2016, batting at three for the second innings only on each occasion, and a first-ball duck followed by three against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2018.

He averages 12.75 at number two but taking his six innings as an opener overall, that average of 14 leaves number three as his lowest anywhere in the order. His best is 51.20 at number four, while in his regular positions he averages 21.50 at number six, 33.48 at seven and 25.93 at eight, with an overall Test average of 27.82.

England have recalled James Anderson for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.

The 40-year-old Lancashire seamer will feature on home turf as he returns to the team in place of Ollie Robinson, the only change to the side that defeated Australia at Headingley in the third Test.

England kept the Ashes alive in Leeds after Yorkshireman Harry Brook steered the hosts to victory with 75 runs before Chris Woakes and Mark Wood’s match-winning partnership saw them over the line.

Ben Stokes’ side are 2-1 down in the series with another must-win game on the line in Manchester.

Another tweak to the side sees Moeen Ali promoted to bat at number three, with Ollie Pope ruled out for the rest of the series.

Brook had originally occupied the vacant spot, but all-rounder Ali, who was dismissed for five while batting at three in the second innings, was unexpectedly promoted after asking head coach Brendon McCullum if he could bat there.

“When I took the role on I asked for 10 other selfless cricketers,” England captain Stokes said post-match at Headingley.

“And that little moment of Mo going to Baz (McCullum) and saying, ‘I want the opportunity’ is everything that we’re about as a team.”

England claimed a dramatic draw in the first Ashes Test against Australia on this day in 2009 after James Anderson and Monty Panesar staged a dogged last-wicket stand in Cardiff.

The tailenders survived the final 69 deliveries in a tense rearguard action at Sophia Gardens to deny the tourists first blood and spark wild celebrations in the stands.

England had resumed on day five at 20 for two, 219 runs behind after Australia had overhauled their first innings total of 435 and established a platform for victory with a mammoth 674 for six declared in which Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting, Marcus North and Brad Haddin had all reached three figures.

The hosts looked to be heading for an innings defeat as Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior went by the time the score had reached 70, although Paul Collingwood’s resolute 74 steadied the ship with support from spinner Graeme Swann, who made 31.

However, the Durham all-rounder’s stubborn resistance ended after a 245-ball, 344-minute stay at the crease when he edged Peter Siddle to Michael Hussey at gully.

England had been reduced to 233 for nine and the writing was on the wall.

As Panesar walked out to join Anderson in the middle with his side still six runs behind, a minimum of 11.3 overs remained and few gave two men hardly renowned for their expertise with the bat any real chance of resisting.

But to huge popular acclaim resist they did, at times uncertain over whether to take runs when they presented themselves, but growing in confidence once successive Anderson boundaries had ensured the Australians would have to bat again.

Anderson ended up finishing unbeaten on 21 while Panesar contributed seven runs to a total of 252 for nine to secure a draw, the significance of which only became apparent as the summer progressed.

England went on to win at Lord’s and the Oval either side of a draw at Edgbaston and an Australian victory at Headingley, taking the series 2-1 and in the process regaining the Ashes they had surrendered so tamely Down Under during the winter of 2006-07.

England’s record wicket-taker James Anderson has described the Edgbaston pitch as “kryptonite” for his style of bowling and is praying for livelier surfaces as the Ashes continues.

Anderson, who turns 41 next month, struggled to make an impact during Australia’s tense two-wicket victory with just one wicket in 38 overs.

With minimal swing or seam and gentle carry, Anderson’s primary weapons were dulled and he did not even bowl in the decisive final session.

That has put his place in some doubt for Wednesday’s second Test at Lord’s, though his record at the home of cricket – where he has 117 wickets at 24.58 – tells a different story.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Anderson admitted: “That pitch was like kryptonite for me. There was not much swing, no reverse swing, no seam movement, no bounce and no pace.

“I have tried over the years to hone my skills so I can bowl in any conditions but everything I tried made no difference. I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle.

“There was a bit of rustiness but I gave it everything I could. Having played for a long time, I realise you cannot take wickets every game. Sometimes it is not your week. It felt like that for me.

“It is a long series and hopefully I can contribute at some point, but if all the pitches are like that, I am done in the Ashes series.

“I know I was not on top of my game. It was not my best performance. I know I have more to offer and contribute to the team. I want to make up for it at Lord’s and all I can do is turn up on Sunday and prepare to play.”

Anderson was twice stood down from new-ball duty at Edgbaston, a rarity in his two-decade Test career, but he revealed he was part of that decision.

“I had a chat with Ben Stokes about how I felt. We agreed it was the type of pitch the taller bowlers were getting more out of. I was completely on board with that,” he said.

England are continuing to assess Moeen Ali’s injured finger, which prevented the spinner playing a full part in the fourth innings of the match. Head coach Brendon McCullum has said the all-rounder will play if the medical staff can patch up the badly blistered index finger, but back-up options remain under consideration.

Surrey’s Will Jacks did his cause no harm on Thursday night when he smashed five sixes in an over during a knock of 96 against Middlesex in the Vitality Blast. His spin bowling is less developed, but explosive batting is very much part of the current England philosophy.

Mark Wood, who is capable of hitting paces in excess of 96mph, is also an increasingly attractive option. Jofra Archer’s speed caused big problems for Australia during the Lord’s Test of 2019 and Wood is the only available option who can recreate that kind of hostility.

England head coach Brendon McCullum is confident James Anderson and Ollie Robinson will be fit for the first Ashes Test but has confirmed they will play no part against Ireland this week.

The five-match series against Australia begins on June 16 but England have fitness concerns over a number of their bowlers.

Robinson suffered an ankle issue for Sussex earlier this month and Anderson strained his groin while on Lancashire duty while injury-hit pair Jofra Archer and Olly Stone have experienced elbow and hamstring problems respectively already this summer.

England begin their eagerly anticipated summer with a four-day Test against Ireland at Lord’s on Thursday and while two of their key bowlers will miss out, they should be fine for the Ashes opener at Edgbaston.

“Yeah we’ve got a couple of niggles so we’re just monitoring those at the moment. I guess every team that goes into a series has got a couple of little things that you need to work through, but pretty confident we’ll have a good squad to be able to pick from,” McCullum insisted.

On Robinson and Anderson, he added: “For the first Ashes Test, I think they should be fit.

“They won’t be fit for this one against Ireland. We’ll just have to monitor it over this next sort of while, but we’ve got some great options right throughout the squad.

“When I first took over this job, people said there wasn’t much depth in English cricket and I disagree with that completely.

“I think there is an immense amount of depth and we’ve got plenty of good options throughout the squad.”

James Anderson marked his England Test debut with a five-wicket haul as the hosts skittled Zimbabwe at Lord’s on this day in 2003.

Just over a year after making his championship debut for Lancashire against Surrey at Old Trafford, the 20-year-old Anderson became the first England bowler to take five wickets on his maiden Test appearance since Dominic Cork eight years previously.

His performance ensured Zimbabwe were dismissed for 147 and, after following on 325 runs adrift, were bowled out for a second time for 223 to suffer a comprehensive defeat by an innings and 92 runs.

Anderson, who did not add to his match tally in the second innings, claimed four wickets for five runs in 14 balls to prompt a first-innings Zimbabwe collapse of eight wickets for 68 runs, establishing himself as England’s new young star.

The Burnley seamer had made his mark on international cricket over the winter by emerging from the academy side to join England’s one-day squad before some promising showings at the World Cup in South Africa.

Anderson said of his breakthrough: “It is incredible the speed it has gone, it is amazing.

“I am absolutely delighted with the way I bowled in that spell. But it was a great team effort by Harmy (Steve Harmison) and Matthew Hoggard backing me up, Mark Butcher and Anthony McGrath as well.

“I was a bit disappointed in the areas where it didn’t come out quite right and I was a bit nervous as well.

“I have seen players up there (on the honours board) from the 1800s and I am honoured to have my name up already.”

Anderson has since established himself as one of the sport’s best-ever bowlers.

The 40-year-old is currently third on the all-time list of wicket-takers with 685 Test scalps, behind only Shane Warne (708) and Muttiah Muralitharan (800), and will hope to add to his tally during this summer’s Ashes.

James Anderson is in bullish mood ahead of the Ashes, insisting England can hit a level “nobody in the world can cope with”.

As the elder statesman of English cricket Anderson tends to steer clear of pre-series mind games – leaving the needling to fellow seamers Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson – but as he prepares to play in his ninth series against Australia, he cannot hide his optimism for the summer ahead.

A minor groin strain means Anderson looks set to sit out the first home Test of the year, against Ireland at Lord’s, leaving him to focus on the Ashes opener at Edgbaston on June 16.

Anderson has lifted the urn on four separate occasions, in 2009, 2010/11, 2013 and 2015, but has had some difficult experiences in recent years with injury and an underperforming team. In his last 10 outings against the old enemy he has lost eight and drawn two.

His long-time bowling partner Broad recently declared England’s 4-0 defeat Down Under in 2021/22 as ‘void’ due to the hangover of Covid-19 restrictions and, although Anderson makes light of that assessment, he strongly believes the current side are a completely different proposition.

“I get his point with the Covid stuff but, for me, I’ve voided the last three away series. I’ve lost four out of five, I think. That’s his coping strategy,” he said with a smile.

“I’m aware of what has happened, but I’ve played long enough to be able to park everything that’s gone before, good and bad, and focus on what’s about to come.

“I’m just excited about the way we’ve been playing. It’s about entertaining people and trying to enjoy ourselves while we do it. If you look at our team, if we play to the best of our ability with that mindset, I don’t think anyone can cope with us. If we do what we’ve been doing and play as well as we possibly can, I think nobody in the world can cope with it.”

Anderson’s confidence is built on firm foundations rather than blind optimism. Since head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes took over last summer, England have won 10 of their 12 Test matches, playing a brand of daring, innovative cricket that has ripped up several chapters of the old rule book.

Stokes’ utter commitment to the ethos, as a batting unit and a bowling group, is the driving force behind the reinvention of a team previously associated with conservative methods.

And Anderson, who has served under a host of England captains including the likes of Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan and Sir Andrew Strauss, has the highest possible praise for the all-rounder.

Speaking at the launch of Radox’s partnership with England cricket, he was asked if Stokes was the best of the lot. He took a long pause before answering: “Yeah. It is hard to say over a short period of time, but he’s had an amazing start.

“He’s a born leader. I think he is completely different from any captain I’ve ever played with before and I’ve really enjoyed it. The way he trains, whether it’s the gym or whether it’s catching or batting or bowling, he is the ultimate professional.”

“For me, it’s the finer details, not just on the field where his tactical nous has been spot on, but also his emotional intelligence off the field and how he talks to everyone in the group.”

Anderson admits with a grin to having “old man muscles” but, providing his current niggle does not get any worse, he is a shoo-in to take the new ball for the series opener in Birmingham. Yet with five Tests crammed into a window of less than seven weeks, he realises rotation is likely to be an important feature among the seam attacks on both sides.

“I think playing all five is a little bit optimistic, and not just for myself,” he said.

“If you said to any of the bowlers (they’ll play) three out of five, I think that’s probably more realistic, more sensible. If it’s four then great, but you’ve got to take it game by game.”

:: Jimmy Anderson was speaking at a partnership launch announcing Radox as an Official Partner of England Cricket.

James Anderson is ready to sit out England’s first Test of the summer against Ireland but is confident a groin strain picked up on county duty will not hold him back from next month’s Ashes opener.

The country’s record wicket-taker pulled up sore during day one of Lancashire’s LV= County Championship clash against Somerset last week and sat out the remainder of the clash.

His absence brought back memories of the 2019 series against Australia, when he battled back from a torn calf only to break down again on the first morning of the first Test and bring an early end to his summer.

Scans allayed the worst of those fears and even allowed the 40-year-old to appear in a 15-man squad for the one-off Lord’s Test against Ireland on June 1, but England may ultimately be happier to wrap their lead seamer in cotton wool ahead of the Ashes opener at Edgbaston two weeks later.

“I think I will be fit for the Ireland game. Whether I play or not is probably another matter really. I definitely don’t want to risk it,” he said, at an appearance for new England sponsors Radox.

“I am desperate to be fit for the first Ashes Test. If that means missing the Ireland Test, so be it.

“I feel good. I had a scan on the second day of that game – it was a little groin strain. It’s a 10-day recovery period, and I’m rehabbing already, running next week.

“It was the best result of a bad situation. That situation (in 2019) was a different injury, a more serious injury. I ripped my calf earlier that summer, and it was a real push to try to get fit for that first Test. I don’t feel like this is anywhere near that severity.”

Anderson was making his fourth appearance of the county season when he went down at Emirates Old Trafford, tuning up nicely with 16 wickets, and realised instantly he needed to withdraw.

“I was disappointed to have to pull out of a game but, with what’s to come in the summer, it was actually a pretty good result,” he said.

“It was weird how it worked out. The last ball of my spell I felt something not quite right. I came straight off, and then we came pretty much straight off for rain after that. I pulled up the next day and it wasn’t right. I went for a scan that night and it showed a strain, so there was no point risking it.”

Anderson’s likely absence against Ireland creates opportunities elsewhere, with the returning pace pair of Chris Woakes and Matthew Potts eager for action as they seek to force their way back in.

:: Anderson was speaking at a partnership launch announcing Radox as an official partner of England Cricket. Radox will be keeping cricketers and fans feeling refreshed this summer.

James Anderson is set to be named in England’s first Test squad of the summer despite the groin injury that forced him out of action for Lancashire last week.

Alarm bells started ringing when the country’s record wicket-taker sat out the last three days of the LV= Insurance County Championship clash against Somerset, with the England and Wales Cricket Board confirming over the weekend that the seamer had a “mild strain to his right groin”.

England are due to to announce their group for the Test against Ireland on Tuesday morning and, although they will take no risks with Anderson’s fitness when it comes to team selection, the 40-year-old is expected to be included.

Anderson will continue to be assessed but a decision on his participation in the Lord’s curtain-raiser, which acts as England’s only competitive Ashes warm-up and and runs from June 1-4, will not be made until closer to the time.

Zak Crawley will also be hoping he retains the faith of a selection panel convened by director of cricket Rob Key. Former England all-rounder Luke Wright was involved for the first time, joining captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum.

Crawley’s place has been frequently scrutinised and a batting average of 27.60 across 33 Tests makes him vulnerable, but he has been given a long leash due to his high ceiling and ability to set a free-flowing tempo at the top of the order. An early season knock of 170 for Kent was testament to his up-side, but his lack of consistency comes through in his average of 38.88 in nine innings.

Stokes himself has been touted as a potential replacement at opener, a high-risk move that would represent a profound change of role for the skipper. There are lingering concerns over his preferred job as an all-rounder too though.

After his longstanding left knee injury flared up during February’s tour of New Zealand, Stokes spoke of his frustration at being unable to deliver as the side’s fourth seamer and his desperation to be back at full capacity in time for the Ashes.

But his time with Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League has proved trying, playing just twice for the franchise and sending down a solitary over at the cost of 18 runs. The 31-year-old subsequently picked up a toe problem and a further unspecified “setback” before being kept on the sidelines once available.

CSK have preferred another English all-rounder, Moeen Ali, due to his contribution as an off-spinner, but head coach Stephen Fleming has shed further light on the matter.

Speaking after his side’s defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, the New Zealander suggested Stokes’ seamers were not currently an option and that he was instead being viewed as a specialist batter ahead of the final group-stage match.

“Ben’s ability to bowl overs at the moment is still a bit of a challenge, but he’s there as that batting cover,” said Fleming.

“But with Moeen bowling well in good conditions – we go to Delhi [next] which has been turning – we think the balance of the side has been right. We’re second on the table, so it’s not our style to chop and change just because we’ve had a loss where things didn’t go our way.”

Jonny Bairstow will make his return to the England set-up, almost 10 months on from breaking his leg in three places during a freak accident at a golf course. Bairstow was England’s star performer in 2022, at one stage smashing four centuries in five innings to give the new regime a thrilling, winning start.

Stokes and McCullum had both previously suggested that he would walk back into the side when fit, but there remains speculation over his role. With Harry Brook excelling since stepping into his fellow Yorkshireman’s boots at number five, he could be vying with Ben Foakes for the wicketkeeping gloves.

England would be reluctant to dispense with a man they deem to be the best pure gloveman in the world, and a steadying influence at number seven, and will be tempted to defer the final decision by taking both Foakes and Bairstow to Lord’s.

With Jofra Archer’s ongoing elbow complaint and Olly Stone’s hamstring problem taking them out of the equation, England’s pace unit should look familiar with Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood to the fore.

Durham quick Matthew Potts has taken 24 wickets at 22.50 in Division Two to push his name back into centre stage after failing to feature over the winter, while Chris Woakes could also get the call 14 months on from his last Test appearance.

The Warwickshire man missed the entire 2022 home season through injury and has yet to play since Stokes and McCullum took the reins, but he boasts a fine record in English conditions and would strengthen the lower-order batting.

England seamer James Anderson was a conspicuous absentee on the second morning of Lancashire’s LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Somerset, receiving treatment for a “minor issue”.

Anderson was in outstanding form on the opening day at Emirates Old Trafford, taking two for 16 from 14 metronomic overs, but left the field shortly before rain brought an early end to proceedings.

He did not emerge with his team-mates on Friday, with Lancashire confirming he was experiencing an undisclosed complaint.

A spokesperson said: “Jimmy is off the field with a minor issue, which is currently being assessed.”

Anderson, 40, is integral to England’s Ashes plans this summer, with bowling stocks already hit by fresh injuries to pace pair Jofra Archer and Olly Stone.

Archer has returned early from the Indian Premier League due to discomfort in his troublesome right elbow, while Stone faces several weeks on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring on duty for Nottinghamshire last week.

Anderson managed just four overs in the last home series against Australia, ruled out with a calf problem on the opening morning.

England begin their Test summer against Ireland at Lord’s, a four-day match starting on June 1, before the Ashes opener at Edgbaston on June 16.

James Anderson starred as Lancashire got off to a strong start against Somerset on a rain-affected first day of their LV= Insurance County Championship Division One clash at Emirates Old Trafford.

Anderson, playing his fourth consecutive four-day game for the Red Rose and his final match before the sole Test against Ireland, gave notice of his readiness for England duty with a brilliant eight-over opening spell during which he bowled five maidens, was hit for five runs and claimed the wickets of Steven Davies and Tom Abell.

Although Somerset had recovered from 12 for three to 109 for four by the time torrential rain ended play for the day, it was Anderson’s spell that will have England supporters hoping for brighter days with the Ashes beginning in just over a month.

Chris Rushworth continued his stunning start to his Warwickshire career with another four wickets as Essex’s batting imploded on a rain-affected opening day at Edgbaston.

Former Durham seamer Rushworth went into this game, his fifth for Warwickshire, with 22 wickets at 15.27 apiece and enhanced those figures further with four for 28 as Essex folded to 126 all out.

Rushworth delivered a triple-wicket maiden in the last over before tea to reduce Essex from a relatively healthy 76 for two to 76 for five. Olly Hannon-Dalby followed up in the final session with four for 21, taking him past 450 wickets in all formats.

Warwickshire then encountered turbulence of their own as they reached 17 for two at the close of a day which provided abundant drama and entertainment despite play not starting until 3pm due to rain.

James Fuller took five for 21 as Hampshire dominated the first day of their match with Kent at Canterbury.

Kyle Abbott also starred for the visitors, claiming three for 23, as they skittled Kent for just 95 before reaching 89 without loss at stumps.

Dan Worrall’s five-wicket haul helped Surrey claim the honours on day one of their match with local rivals Middlesex after the visitors collapsed to 209 all out.

A 152-run second wicket stand between Sam Robson and Pieter Malan, who both hit half-centuries, put the visitors in a position of control but they lost nine wickets for 43 runs after lunch. The hosts reached 21 without loss in reply.

Ricardo Vasconcelos and Saif Zaib shared a 50 partnership as hosts Northamptonshire reached 86 for two against Nottinghamshire before rain ended proceedings early.

In Division Two, Durham’s Matthew Potts continued his impressive campaign by taking four wickets to help bowl out Yorkshire for 254 at Chester-le-Street.

Captain Shan Masood, making his Yorkshire debut, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow failed to capitalise on starts, with Potts (four for 49) thriving. The hosts reached 42 for two in reply.

Michael Neser further stated his case for Australian selection this summer with a hugely impressive four-wicket haul for Glamorgan against visitors Worcestershire.

Neser, in partnership with Timm van der Gugten, ripped through the Worcestershire top order before James Harris claimed four wickets of his own as the visitors were bowled out for 109.

The Glamorgan top order also found batting challenging on a day where it swung and seamed throughout, moving to 177 for six with captain David Lloyd (48) leading the effort.

There was no action on day one of the second game of Australia batter Steve Smith’s three-match stint at Sussex. A wet outfield at Leicestershire did not help his preparations for his country’s World Test Championship final against India at the Oval on June 7 and the Ashes versus England, starting on June 16.

Rain meant the opening day of Derbyshire’s clash with visiting Gloucestershire was also washed out.

England have put themselves in a winning position after day two of their second Test in New Zealand, with three quickfire James Anderson wickets torpedoing the hosts' chances.

The visitors resumed on Saturday at 315-3 with Harry Brook and Joe Root at the crease, with Brook only adding two more runs to reach 186 off 176 deliveries before getting caught-and-bowled by Matt Henry.

Root, who picked things up at 101 not-out, made his way to 153 not-out from 224 deliveries. After just 28 of his first 101 runs came via boundaries (seven fours), he put the foot down on day two, with 32 of his 52 runs resulting from three fours and three sixes.

New Zealand quick Neil Wagner caused Ben Stokes to mistime a pull shot and lob an easy one to mid-off on 27, and spinner Michael Bracewell removed Ben Foakes (duck) and Stuart Broad (14).

Henry came back in and collected his fourth wicket, dismissing Ollie Robinson for 18, and with England at 435-8 they decided to declare and have a bowl in swinging conditions.

The decision paid early dividends, with Anderson starting like a house on fire.

Anderson got the wicket of opener Devon Conway (duck) in the first over, with a review finding the faintest of edges through to Foakes behind the stumps. 

England's all-time leading wicket taker then caught the edge of Black Caps talisman Kane Williamson (four), and Foakes had three catches by the ninth over after Anderson removed Will Young (two).

Anderson's onslaught left New Zealand at 21-3 – the same mark England were before Brook and Root's heroic partnership – but there was little resistance waiting in the wings, as Jack Leach took three wickets and Broad nabbed one to make it 138-7.

For the second day in a row stumps were called hours before the scheduled finish time due to heavy rain, and the weather may be the hosts' only chance of salvaging a result.

Brook second to Bradman

Despite only mustering two more runs after resuming play, Brook's 186 raised his average to 89.88 from nine innings. 

Among all players with at least five Test innings, Brook's average is second to only Sir Donald Bradman (99.94).

Anderson's bread and butter

All three of Anderson's early wickets were caught behind by the wicketkeeper – a familiar sight for the legendary quick.

No player has ever registered more dismissals via that method, with Anderson's 191 now giving him 39 more than second-placed Glenn McGrath.

Among the top-five – McGrath, Broad, Courtney Walsh and Dale Steyn – Anderson's percentage of wickets caught behind (27.88 per cent) is the highest.

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