Ashes 2019: Anderson injury 'a big blow' for England, says Leach
Jack Leach says he is "gutted" for James Anderson after the England paceman was ruled out of the rest of the Ashes against Australia.
James Anderson's Ashes career looks to have been ended by a recurrence of a calf injury after England's greatest bowler was ruled out of the Old Trafford and Oval Tests.
The 575-wicket paceman was on duty for Lancashire second XI for the second week in a row, looking to prove his fitness for the climax of the series against Australia.
With England and Australia tied at 1-1, the prospect of Anderson coming into Joe Root's team could have provided a major spur for the host.
However, a right calf problem has seen the plans shelved, and at the age of 37 it seems certain Anderson has played his final Ashes match. He will be 39 by the time the next series against Australia comes around Down Under in 2021-22.
Anderson limped out of the ongoing series on day one of the Edgbaston opener and has not been involved since.
The 37-year-old seamer clung to the hope of returning, but calf trouble resurfaced in the Lancashire second-string game against Durham at Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club.
"That's a big blow for us," said England spinner Jack Leach.
"Obviously he's a great bowler, probably England's greatest bowler, so whenever that happens it's going to be a big blow.
"I'm gutted for him. He's worked really hard to try to get fit for Lord's and for this game [at Old Trafford] so it's a shame for Jimmy and a shame for England.
"We have to move on without him for this game and for the rest of the series. But I'm sure he’ll come back strong, and it's a shame for him."
Anderson has taken 104 wickets in 32 Tests against Australia, at an average of 34.56.
He had looked certain to return to the England squad at Old Trafford, where a stand is named in his honour, providing he came through his low-profile county outings.
England has instead had to look elsewhere to find competition in the bowling department, with Somerset's Craig Overton called up.
Leach, who played the gutsy support role at Headingley when Ben Stokes produced his match-winning century, said England would be fully focused for the rest of the series after enjoying a short break from camp.
Players have been free to return home and spend time with friends and family, and Leach told BBC Radio 5 Live: "You want to be excited and refreshed going to Old Trafford – that's the most important thing for the guys.
"I’m sure Rooty [captain Root] and Trev [coach Trevor Bayliss] will be sending that message to us on Sunday evening, when we're meeting up, and on Monday at training we’ve got to be right on the money.
"The celebrations after Headingley, not from us but from the rest of the country, it feels like it’s the end and we've won the Ashes. But that’s not the case. It's 1-1 and there's two games to go.
"Australia are a good side and they're well up for this and we know they're going to come back hard and we've got to be ready for that."