Melbourne, Dec 22: England's chances of taking a decisive lead in the Ashes series have taken a hit with the news that main strike bowler James Anderson is carrying a side injury. England coach Andy Flower confirmed that his most experienced seamer had pulled up stiff after Perth.
With Stuart Broad out of the tour with injury and young quick Steve Finn looking fatigued during the WACA Test, Anderson's withdrawal would cause a further shake-up of the team''s attack.
"A five-Test series is hard, physically and emotionally. For the fast bowlers even more so because we don't have an all-rounder and are sticking with our four-bowler attack," The Age quoted Flower, as saying."Anderson is feeling stiff in his side but the indications are he should be fine for Melbourne. We have a few days off to rest and recuperate and we'll make decisions then."
All-rounder Tim Bresnan or pacer Ajmal Shahzad would come into the England side for their Ashes debut if Anderson is ruled out of the Boxing Day Test due to injury.
Anderson has been the second-highest wicket-taker in the series so far, garnering a dozen wickets from 3 Tests at an average of 31.91 and a best of 4/51. The most impressive bowler of the Ashes this year is most probably Ryan Harris who has notched up 11 wickets from 2 tests, at a staggering average of 17.27 and a best of 6/47.