James Anderson handed likely Ashes farewell as England name unchanged team for fifth Test

James Anderson bowls during a nets session at the Oval - James Anderson handed likely Ashes farewell as England name unchanged team for fifth Test

James Anderson prepares for the fifth Test during a nets session at the Oval – Getty Images/Gareth Copley

James Anderson will play what is overwhelmingly likely to be his final Ashes Test after being named in an unchanged England team for the last match of the series at the Oval.

Rain denied England the opportunity to capitalise on a strong position at Old Trafford last weekend. Australia were 61 runs behind with five second innings wickets in hand but rain washed out five of the final six sessions, handing them the draw that was enough to secure the Ashes urn for the fourth successive series.

Anderson will turn 41 years old on the fourth day of the final Test and plays alongside Stuart Broad, who will have appeared in all five matches in the series.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad (left) at the Oval - James Anderson handed likely Ashes farewell as England name unchanged team for fifth Test

Anderson with his pace bowling partner Stuart Broad (left) at the Oval – Getty Images/Gareth Copley

Anderson has picked up just four wickets in three matches, but captain Ben Stokes says he maintains faith that Anderson is performing well.

Chris Woakes was perhaps the biggest doubt among the bowlers having suffered from quad soreness at Old Trafford, but he bowled in the nets on Wednesday morning to prove his fitness.

“We have gone unchanged,” said Stokes. “It’s been a tough four games. One little, tiny positive we can maybe take out of the rain over the last two days was that the bowlers got a bit more rest. It’s a strange one to look at from that point of view. The quick turnaround, the game here and knowing what we had to do, you could see that as a tiny, little positive although it’s very hard to say it’s a positive given it rained for two days.”

Ollie Robinson is fit but misses out for the second successive game, while England again overlooked Josh Tongue. Anderson is England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, with 689 in Tests, but has had a quiet summer, which has included a groin injury playing for Lancashire. Despite his low return of wickets, Stokes says he believes Anderson is the greatest fast bowler of all time.

“He’s quality,” he said. “It’s very hard for you guys to sit here and say he’s not. Although he’s not had the impact or the wickets he would have liked to in this series, he’s a quality bowler and quality performer.

“Jimmy’s come under a bit of flack for that but if Joe [Root] hadn’t scored the runs he would have liked, you wouldn’t be questioning him staying in the team as a batter. James Anderson is the greatest fast bowler to play the game and he’s still looking as good as he was two years ago, although he hasn’t had the impact that he would have liked in this series.

“Nearly 700 Test wickets is phenomenal, and to be able to do it all around the world as well. Everyone has got an opinion on those kinds of things and my opinion is that James Anderson is the greatest fast bowler to play the game.”

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