James Anderson likely to miss fifth Ashes Test with Sam Billings making England debut in Hobart


James Anderson is set to miss out in the final Ashes Test in Hobart, while Sam Billings will become men’s Test cap number 700. Billings, who drove more than 500 miles down Australia’s eastern coast to join up with the Test team after having been playing in the Big Bash League, will also take the wicketkeeping gloves after a litany of injuries in the England camp.

Despite a pitch which will be left with a “tinge of green” and conditions which are likely to be favourable to swing, James Anderson will make way for a returning Ollie Robinson, who was rested in Sydney. Anderson picked up just one wicket at the SCG while conceding 88 runs, and has already admitted that this tour has been the toughest of his career. England’s great escape in that Test, where Anderson was the last man standing to see off the final Steve Smith over, will likely have been the last chance we got to see England’s most capped player playing Ashes cricket Down Under.

For Billings, it is an unlikely moment in a career framed mainly by white-ball cricket, but it’s also one which has been greeted with overwhelming support within a jaded England camp. In the team huddle before England’s final training session before the Hobart Test, Billings was warmly applauded before heading to the middle to practice his keeping.

While Billings replaces Jos Buttler, who has already returned home to the UK with a broken finger, and Robinson comes in for Anderson, Rory Burns will also open the batting instead of Haseeb Hameed, who has suffered six single-digit scores in his most recent Test innings.


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