Side strain rules Anderson out of rest of Test
James Anderson will not bowl for the rest of the first Test in Cardiff, after scans revealed he had sustained a Grade 1 side strain, having left the field for treatment during the second day's play against Sri Lanka.
Anderson was the pick of England's pace attack on Friday and produced a superb spell of swing bowling during the morning session to remove Mahela Jayawardene, but spent time off the field during the afternoon and was only able to bowl one over after tea before heading back to the dressing room.
"It's a huge concern for us," said his new-ball partner Stuart Broad, who was himself ruled out of the latter stages of the Ashes after sustaining a side injury during the Adelaide Test in December. "He felt a bit of tightness in the back and side, and I know what side injuries are all about after this winter. If you do get a little bit of pain it's not great, so we're being pretty cautious."
Anderson came into this match having completed 71 overs for Lancashire in the build-up to the first Test following a winter where he was the stand-out bowler during the Ashes and claimed 24 wickets.
Although Anderson was dropped during England's World Cup campaign, and missed part of the one-day series in Australia to return to the UK, he was the only one of England's quicks not to pick up an injury throughout the winter. However, he did suffer a serious stress fracture of his back in 2006 which forced him to miss all but the final match of the home season.
There was encouragement for England when Anderson emerged from the pavilion as nightwatchman after Andrew Strauss's dismissal in the final over of the day's play. However, Broad explained that the requirements for batting and bowling are entirely different when it comes to side strains, and that his fitness should not be taken for granted as a result.
"With my side injury I could do anything but bowl, so it's one of those frustrating ones as a bowler," he said. "Hopefully it will just be a bit of tightness and [the scan] won't show a huge amount, but Jimmy's not feeling pain when batting, so hopefully can have one of those frustrating hours for us tomorrow where he wears a few, but gets some away."
Anderson's injury compounded a difficult day in the field for England, as Sri Lanka's wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene belied a career average in the low 30s to produce a doughty third Test century. Nevertheless, having experienced the placid nature of the Cardiff wicket against Australia two years ago, Broad was confident that a first-innings total of 400 was not insurmountable.
"We got 420-odd against Australia in 2009 and we were under the pump for last 120 overs," he recalled, after Australia had posted a post-war Ashes record of 674 for 6 declared. "That has got to be the mindset, to do what Australia did to us - bat big, bat once, and then hopefully Swanny will be in the game on last day.
"But that doesn't come about by focussing too much on that game," he added. "Tomorrow is going to be the key day in the game. The ball moved about a bit in the morning, and they could easily have nicked a few more than they did, so it's important we get through that session tomorrow morning and build big partnerships. Having watched the guys in Australia we can do that."
On a personal note, Broad reached a notable milestone in the evening session when he had Thisara Perera caught at mid-on to bring up his 100th wicket in Test cricket. At the age of 24 years and 337 days, he was the second-youngest Englishman to do so after Ian Botham, although the moment had been a long time coming. He had been limited to just two scalps in Australia before injury curtailed his Ashes campaign, and then had to wait a further 105 overs in Cardiff before finally breaking through.
"I felt in really good rhythm," he said. "The rub of the green didn't go my way with a few decisions and nicks, but that happens in Test cricket from time to time, and our percentage of runs to third man was pretty frightening to be honest, so that's something we might look at for the rest of the series.
"It was hard work out there. We bowled pretty well and stayed together. It would have been quite easy to get quite ragged this afternoon but I thought we actually bowled pretty well, and created chances. We're still in a decent position in this Test."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo