Candidates to replace Jimmy Anderson?
Candidates to replace Jimmy Anderson?
Caption: England’s talisman Anderson is nearing the end of his test career
Frustration is the overriding word for James Anderson’s summer. The 37-year-old was once again selected to headline England’s bowling attack in the Ashes, with his swing bowling hoping to bamboozle the Australian batsmen on English pitches once again. Nevertheless, just minutes into the first test match at Edgbaston, Anderson pulled up with a reoccurrence of a calf problem. Despite attempting to bowl – and bat – through the pain barrier, Anderson’s worst fears were confirmed, with the injured calf ruling him out for the remainder of the series.
As England’s record-breaking wicket taker, it would be foolhardy not to suggest that Anderson’s absence from the bowling attack was one of the main contributory factors in Australia going on to retain the Ashes. Although Anderson has reiterated that he has no immediate thoughts of retiring this winter, ahead of a tour of New Zealand, he left a huge hole to fill this summer. This resulted in many pundits speculating just who could become the long-term replacement for Jimmy, as well as strike bowling partner in crime, Stuart Broad.
Former England bowler, Steve Harmison insisted earlier this year that the England team required “genuine pace” in the years to come, if they are to re-establish themselves as the world’s number-one test nation. The Aussies are currently 1/2 favourites to win the next Ashes series, with their pace and experience playing on the harder, faster pitches ‘down under’ still likely to prove invaluable. Although Jofra Archer well and truly announced himself on the international test stage this summer, he will need support from the next generation of England bowlers.
Who are the likely replacements for Messrs Anderson and Broad?
Caption: Mark Wood (far left) has been a popular figure in the England team since 2015
If it’s searing pace the England selectors are after, then Mark Wood will almost certainly feature on the plane for the 2021 Ashes. Wood is a player that can regularly bowl in the 90mph bracket and could provide a fearsome bowling partnership with Jofra Archer that could do some damage on harder Australian wickets. The biggest issue with Wood is his long-term durability. Side and knee injuries ruled the Ashington-born bowler out of the entire Ashes series this summer, which was a huge disappointment to the 29-year-old.
However, a full summer away from the test scene could hopefully leave plenty in the tank for Wood if he can fully recover and return to the form he displayed when he debuted in 2015/16. He is a bowler that has a unique ‘skiddy’ action, that hurries batsmen and forces them into unnatural shots at times. Combine that with his fiery, competitive streak and he could still have several years at the frontline of England’s bowling attack.
Speaking of fiery competitors, the other leading candidate to fill the eventual void left by Jimmy Anderson would be Sam Curran. The son of former Northamptonshire all-rounder, Kevin Curran, the precocious 21-year-old has already showcased his talents both at county level for Surrey and in the glitz and glamour of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Kings XI Punjab. Curran well and truly announced himself to the cricketing world by becoming the youngest player to take a hat-trick in the IPL, aged just 20.
Former England batsman and wicket keeper, Alec Stewart labelled Curran the “best 17-year-old cricketer he had ever seen” just a few years ago. Curran is considered an all-rounder by some people, but his tigerish, clever left-arm swing bowling makes him a force to be reckoned with and a potential replacement for Anderson. He won’t have the same blistering pace as Jofra Archer, but alongside Archer and Wood he could provide an intelligent and fiery foil for the speed twins.
Craig Overton was given an audition to stake a claim for a long-term place in England’s bowling attack during the fourth test. Ironically, it was Overton’s batting that caught the eye rather than his bowling, which appeared somewhat middle-of-the-road, failing to provide a stiff test for the Australian batsmen. Wisden named Sam Curran one of their five ‘Cricketers of the Year’ for 2019 and most of the leading sports tipsters would agree that he has the most potential to become an England ‘great’.