x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Third seamer’s spot open, says Anderson

James Anderson expects some stiff competition in the nets over the next two days before England make their final decision on which seamer will join their Ashes attack.

BRISBANE // James Anderson expects some stiff competition in the nets over the next two days, before England make their final decision on which seamer will support him and Stuart Broad in the first Ashes Test on Thursday in Brisbane.

Contrary to bowling coach David Saker – who suggested on Sunday that the choice between tall men Chris Tremlett, Steven Finn and Boyd Rankin is a done deal – pace spearhead Anderson thinks there could yet be some jockeying for position.

England had just optional nets yesterday – when injured wicketkeeper Matt Prior had his first extended batting session as he tries to demonstrate his recovery from a torn calf in time.

Also in attendance were captain Alastair Cook, Prior’s understudy Jonny Bairstow and off-spinner Graeme Swann.

The serious business will begin for the fast bowlers today, it seems, 48 hours before the Test begins.

“I think all of them, the bowling group as a whole, have got better as the tour has gone on,” said Anderson. “I think there was some rustiness [in the first warm-up match] at Perth. Certainly, I felt that as well.

“But as the preparation has gone on, we’ve all started to find some rhythm.

“I think it could be quite a tricky decision for the selectors.”

He believes there is still time to impress at practice, especially if the pace hopefuls get their chance to bowl at senior batsmen such as Cook.

“In my experience, the nets can be quite important,” said Anderson. “I’m sure the bowlers are well aware of that, and I wouldn’t really like to be a batsman facing them this week.”

Tremlett is emerging as the likeliest candidate, having sat out the victory over an Australian Invitational XI in which neither Finn nor Rankin did quite enough to depose him – the former taking eight wickets in the match but leaking runs worryingly.

“Our strategy as a bowling group is to create pressure, and take wickets [that way],” Anderson said.

“That’s crucial not just for the third seamer but all three and the spinner to do. That’s our goal.

“We want to create pressure and have to take 20 wickets. Whoever plays will be selected to do that.”