Stuart Broad revealed a “distraught” James Anderson apologised to his England team-mates after pulling up injured on the first morning of the Ashes.
Anderson managed just four overs on day one of the hotly-anticipated series against Australia before experiencing tightness in his right calf and did not return to the field after being sent for a scan during the lunch break.
Without their record wicket-taker England still managed to dismiss the tourists for 284 at Edgbaston, Broad taking over as sole figurehead to claim five for 86.
At one stage, with Australia 122 for eight, it looked like the 37-year-old would not even be missed but Steve Smith’s brilliant, backs-to-the-wall 144 guided his side back from the brink.
“He is down, he’s frustrated…he actually came and said sorry to all the bowlers, not that he’s got anything to be sorry for,” Broad said of his long-time partner.
“He is distraught he couldn’t be out there today. He feels like he’s let the bowling group down but he hasn’t. Niggles are a part of fast bowling, but he’s down in the dumps as you’d expect.”
England do not yet have a clear prognosis on Anderson, who missed last week’s Ireland Test with an existing calf injury, but will have surely steeled themselves for the possibility of bad news.
“I don’t know what the next steps are, the scan could show it’s not much and he could be able to bowl in the second innings or it could show something and it’s a couple of weeks,” added Broad.
Broad’s haul not only made him just the eighth Englishman to reach 100 Ashes wickets, it also went down particularly well with a raucous Edgbaston crowd.
He dismissed each of Australia’s returning ‘Sandpaper trio’ of ball-tamperers – Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft – who were given a rough ride all day by a simmering Hollies Stand.
Smith dealt with the pressure cooker rather better than his colleagues, who both succumbed for single figures, but the sound and fury from the England supporters drew a wry response from Broad.
Clearly noting Australia captain Tim Paine’s pre-match claim that he could “name 15” more intimidating venues, the 128-Test veteran said: “One thing’s for sure, that atmosphere was lively. It was loud. Certainly in my top 15.
“There was a time as players we were like ‘wow’. Having gone through a bit of stick myself in Australia…it’s part of being a professional sportsman. Footballers get it all the time but it’s a bit unexpected sometimes in cricket. Smith seemed to deal with it OK.”
With Anderson’s ongoing role up in the air, Broad is set to be a crucial figure over the next four days – something he will never shy away from.
“I do enjoy added responsibility,” he said.
“Rooty came to us at lunch and said Jimmy wasn’t going to bowl again today, that he might ask quite a lot of us today. He said ‘put everything on the line today and we’ll reassess tomorrow’.
“When your captain asks you that sort of thing…it’s Ashes cricket…you want the ball, every ball. I’m pretty exhausted, I’d forgotten how nerve-wracking and tense Ashes cricket is, but after losing the toss and bowling you’d take bowling a team out for less than 300 every day of the week.”
England resume on 10 without loss, Jason Roy and Rory Burns having safely negotiated two awkward overs before stumps.