England quick James Anderson
England quick James Anderson

James Anderson is "fit" but the star England paceman will not face Australia in the Ashes opener at the Gabba as a precaution.

The Ashes series between Australia and England will get underway in Brisbane on Wednesday, however, the tourists will be without key quick Anderson.

Reports on the eve of the first Test claimed Anderson was hampered by a calf problem, though the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) dismissed that claim on Tuesday.

"Jimmy is fit to play, and is not carrying an injury," an ECB statement said. "With five Tests in six weeks the plan was to get him ready for the second Test in Adelaide.

"With the limited build-up we have had so far on the tour, both him and the management didn't want to take the risk of him playing after what had happened in 2019 at Edgbaston, when he broke down on the first morning.

"He bowled at full capacity yesterday for just short of an hour and was in a good place physically. He will do the same again today at practice.

"He will stay with the Test group this week and work with the coaches at the Gabba rather than playing for the Lions."

England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler was also asked about Anderson in the pre-game news conference on Tuesday.

Visiting England are looking to reclaim the urn from Australia's grip.

"I think just with the build-up everyone has had, I think the guys just want to make sure everyone is perfect to go," Buttler told reporters.

"Jimmy's not going to play but he is fit, it's obviously a very long series and we want a guy like that to be available to play as much part in it as possible.

"I think it's just a bit precautionary, bowled well yesterday, bowled again today and obviously bowled a few spells in the couple of days we had as a warm-up game.

"He is fit, but the guys are just being a bit cautious."

England have won two of their last three Tests against Australia – including a 135-run win when they last met, though they are winless in their last 10 away Tests to Australia (D1, L9) having last won in the country in January 2011.

Joe Root's England have lost six of their last nine Tests heading into this series (W1 D2) and have lost their last three Tests away from home. The last time they lost more consecutive away Tests was a seven-game stretch from November 2016 to December 2017.

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