Ashes 2015: England take double quick action after loss of James Anderson

Liam Plunkett and the uncapped Mark Footitt are named in a 14-man squad for this week's Fourth Test at Trent Bridge

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The Independent Online

In recognising the worth of the titanic leader of their attack, Jimmy Anderson, England have felt compelled to summon two fast bowlers as cover.

Nothing betrayed Anderson’s value to the squad more than the announcement that both Liam Plunkett and Mark Footitt have been selected in a party of 14 for the Fourth Investec Test at Trent Bridge starting on Thursday.

Had Anderson not strained his side after setting up the superb eight-wicket victory at Edgbaston which puts England 2-1 ahead in the series, it is safe to presume that neither Plunkett nor Footitt would have been required.

However, neither is likely to play on Thursday with Mark Wood’s tired body having apparently recovered from a period of rest. But their inclusion offers important options.

Plunkett, 30, who has played only two Championship matches for Yorkshire this season after suffering a thigh strain, returned with aplomb to Test cricket last summer and is capable of fast, short bursts. Footitt is the left-arm fast bowler that England crave but, although he was part of the pre-Ashes training camp in Spain, it is important to note that his 50 wickets for Derbyshire have been taken in Division Two.

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Swift option: Liam Plunkett is capable of fast, short bursts (PA)

At 29, Footitt remains formidably quick and understands fast bowling to a degree that eluded him when he was a tyro speed merchant in his early twenties.

But he would find it extremely different bowling against Australia in a Test match than at the County Ground, Derby. Plunkett would probably be the preferred option at such a delicate stage of the series if Wood was deemed unfit.

Footitt spent the first five years of his professional career with Nottinghamshire before moving to Derbyshire in 2010. His 50 wickets at 23.64 runs each this year follow the 84 he took last season at 19.19. But it would be a huge risk to ask him to make his international debut with the Ashes at stake.

The national selector, James Whitaker, said: “With James Anderson missing this Test through injury and some concerns over Mark Wood’s workload in the build-up to the last Test, we felt that bringing in two extra bowlers was necessary.

“The reports on Wood are positive at this stage and we are hopeful that he will be available for selection on Thursday.”

Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, said that he would like to see Wood given a chance to use the new ball. The selectors resisted the temptation to restore Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes to the squad, although in the medium to long term he may prove the wisest choice. Since adding extra pace a year ago, Woakes has increased his potency correspondingly and he also provides control.

 

England are otherwise unchanged, though it is not difficult to deduce that the opening batsman, Adam Lyth, needs runs urgently in this match.

Since what seemed to be his breakthrough century in the Second Test against New Zealand, he has made 72 runs in six innings in the Ashes. There is a lack of obvious replacements but, if Lyth fails again in Nottingham, one will have to be found.

England squad for fourth Test

Alastair Cook (Essex, capt)

Moeen Ali (Worcestershire)

Jonathan Bairstow (Yorkshire)

Ian Bell (Warwickshire)

Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire)

Jos Buttler (Lancashire)

Steven Finn (Middlesex)

Mark Footitt (Derbyshire)

Adam Lyth (Yorkshire)

Liam Plunkett (Yorkshire)

Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)

Joe Root (Yorkshire)

Ben Stokes (Durham)

Mark Wood (Durham)

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