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Who should replace James Anderson after England seamer suffers mild groin strain ahead of the Ashes

With a month until cricket’s greatest competition gets underway, England fans have already had their first worry with seamer James Anderson suffering a “mild strain to his right groin,” in Lancashire’s draw against Somerset last week.

The 40-year-old has been inspired form in the County Championship this term and as England’s all-time leading wicket taker would have been one of the first name on the team sheet for this summer’s showdown with Australia and one-off test against Ireland.

While the early indicators suggest Anderson will be fit to play some part in England’s test match summer, he has struggled for fitness in the last two home Ashes, suffering a calf injury after only four overs in 2019 and a side strain limited his involvement in 2015.

Despite remaining so effective in his older age, England have been preparing for when the twilight of their premier seamer’s career to fade for the last few years so there are plenty of options for Brendan McCullum and Ben Stokes to turn to.

Matt Potts

The forgotten man from the first year of Bazball, Matt Potts played five tests across the summer of 2022 and impressed as primarily in the role of first change behind Anderson and Stuart Broad in wins over New Zealand, India and South Africa.

In his five matches, Potts bowled 182.5 overs and taking 20 wickets at an average of 28 with his best figures of 4-13 on his debut at Lord’s but was ultimately dropped in place of Ollie Robinson midway through the series against the Proteas.

He received plenty of praise from Stokes for how he handled the decision to be left out of the squad with maturity beyond his years. In his four matches for Durham this season he’s taken 24 wickets at an average of 22.50 with one five-wicket-haul making him more than worthy of a test recall.

Jamie Overton

Another like Potts who featured in the debut year of Bazball, Jamie Overton is certainly a bowler that is admired by those who make the selection decisions at the ECB. He received his first ODI call-up when he was 19 ten years ago thanks to his impressive pace and destructive bounce.

Overton finally made his maiden international bow in the third test against New Zealand last summer where he picked up the big scalps of Devon Conway and Tom Latham, albeit at a rather expensive rate but he stole the headlines with the bat as he managed an impressive 97 in his only innings.

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Like so many of England’s other seamers, Overton has been struck down with injuries since his test debut and has only just begun his recovery, but he offers something that very few of the Three Lions other options do with the ball while being effective with the bat.

Saqib Mahmood

Another product on Lancashire’s fast bowling conveyer belt, Saqib Mahmood has, like Anderson, had his own injury issues having barely featured in the last calendar year with an ongoing back issue.

More of an express pace option than England’s leading wicket taker, Mahmood made his England debut during the disastrous tour of the West Indies at the start of 2022, playing two matches and taking six wickets at an average of 22.83.

So far this season, the 26-year-old has played twice and only managed to take three wickets, but with the availability of both Jofra Archer and Mark Wood also questionable, his extra pace may convince the selectors to give him another chance with the red ball.

Jofra Archer

Jofra Archer left the usually relaxed Steve Smith uncomfortable at the crease

Yet another fast bowler who cannot stay fit. Jofra Archer was the surprise package of the last Ashes on home soil, tormenting the Australian batting line-up with a mixture of terrific seam bowling and terrifying bouncers that even saw Steve Smith unsettled at the crease.

But since then it’s been a steady string of injuries for the 28-year-old who last played a test match way back in February, 2021. There has been constant shoulder issues and even an injury involving a fish tank that has ultimately seen him leave the Indian Premier League early this year.

The hope is that his early departure from the Mumbai Indians will allow him to gain the fitness needed to once again don the whites of England, but if history is anything to go by, it will be unlikely that we’ll see him with a Dukes in hand this summer.

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