Ashes 2015: James Anderson injury ruins England's finest hour

Fast bowler a doubt for rest of series as Steven Finn puts hosts on verge of series lead

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The Independent Online

England are on the verge of taking a 2-1 lead in the Ashes after an explosive second day at Edgbaston but are facing the prospect of their strike bowler Jimmy Anderson missing the rest of the series.

Anderson’s team-mate Steven Finn took 5 for 45 as Australia stumbled to 168 for 7 by stumps – a lead of just 23, despite opener David Warner’s defiant 77.

Barring more remarkable events, England should wrap up victory on Friday but they will have to do it without Anderson, who was forced off with a side injury.

There will be more news this morning. Side strains usually require up to six weeks to heal, so Anderson’s prospects of playing again in this series appear remote. The fourth Test begins on Thursday.

An England and Wales Cricket Board statement said: “James Anderson has a tight side and will be assessed overnight and in the morning.”

 

The fast bowler completed three deliveries of his ninth over this afternoon before leaving the field, with  Joe Root coming on to finish the over.

For Finn, the day represented a remarkable comeback after going through a difficult two years since he was branded “unselectable” by England’s one-day coach Ashley Giles following the disastrous Ashes series in Australia in 2013-14 – in which he did not play – and was sent home early.

The 26-year-old fast bowler made a storming return to the Test arena, swinging the match hugely in England’s favour in a fantastic spell either side of the tea break.

He removed the world’s No 1-ranked batsman, Steven Smith, cheaply before the interval, then sparking an Australian collapse in the evening session by getting Michael Clarke and Adam Voges caught in the slips from consecutive deliveries. He later went on to add the wickets of Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Johnson.

Finn admitted that it was a relief to be back after his difficult time in the wilderness. “There’s been dark times along the way but it makes those good times all the more satisfying,” he said. “To be sat here and to have helped put the team in a good position at the end of day two feels pretty darn good, to be honest with you.

“Every cricketer goes through ups and downs, no matter how high or how low, and to come out the other side is a good feeling.”

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Fast bowler Steve Finn was England’s chief weapon as he took five wickets against Australia at Edgbaston (Getty)

Finn admitted the possible loss of Anderson for the next Test at Trent Bridge would be a huge blow for England but he maintained that it was too early to tell anything for certain at this point.

“For Jimmy to walk off halfway through an over can’t be too good,” he said. “But who knows? With some magical medical healing and some rehab and stuff.

“Jimmy loves bowling at Trent Bridge, he’s a huge player for us, he’s the leader of the attack, he sets the tone with everything he does.

“We’ve seen the way that – even when the ball was flying around today a bit – he controlled the run rate, and the way he bowled in the first innings speaks for itself. If he was to miss it, it would be a big loss. But we don’t know what’s going to happen yet.”

Overall, though, Finn was able to reflect positively on what had been an excellent day for him and for this young, emerging England side.

“In the dressing room we’ve had a good day, we can sit there with a smile on our face, but we do still have a big three wickets to take tomorrow morning and some runs to knock off,” he said.

“It’s nice to contribute towards putting us in a good position in the game, to be honest. There were obviously some personal milestones that were nice to get over, and to pull a Test shirt back on has been great fun.”

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