England sweat over James Anderson’s fitness for third Test against New Zealand amid ankle issue

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Jimmy Anderson’s hopes of playing the Third Test against New Zealand at Headingley remain in the balance.

Anderson, 40 next month, has been nursing a slight ankle complaint since the win at Trent Bridge a week ago, in which he bowled 8.4 overs in the second innings. The injury is not considered serious.

Anderson initially appeared in discomfort when bowling at training on Tuesday, then left the field. But he returned to bowl a spell of reasonable length at England’s batters in the nets.

He and Stuart Broad, who know so well how to prepare for a Test match, generally play a greater part in training two days out from a game than the day before, when they just fine tune.

Were Anderson to sit out, his place would go to one of the Overton twins, with the uncapped option, Jamie, appearing closer to selection than Craig, who played the most recent of his eight Tests on the tour of the Caribbean in March.

Jamie is the quicker option, and is having an excellent season for Surrey, taking 21 wickets at an average of under 22.

England have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series and, even with a Test against India following three days after this one, are keen to play their best available XI in each game, rather than becoming mired in the rest and rotation ideas that blighted the pandemic period. So if Anderson were able to prove his fitness, he would play.

Anderson is England's all-time leading wicket-taker and is having an excellent series, with 11 wickets at 18.63.

Ben Stokes was absent from training, with illness. He tested negative for Covid on Tuesday morning, is expected to report back for training on Wednesday and is not currently considered a doubt for the Test.

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