Broad: We can cope without Anderson
James Anderson may have lost his fight to be fit for the Boxing Day Test against South Africa, but Stuart Broad insists the absence of his new ball partner is "not a hammer blow" to England's chances.
Anderson (33), has been ruled out of the series opener in Durban with a right calf strain that has lingered since the start of the trip, though England remain hopeful that he could yet feature in the second Test in Cape Town.
With 110 caps worth of experience and a national record of 426 wickets Anderson's unavailability is a considerable setback for England, particularly on a surface where early breakthroughs will be essential.
But Broad, who took career-best figures of eight for 15 in an unforgettable Ashes morning at Trent Bridge last time Anderson failed a fitness test, believes the tourists can cope.
"Jimmy's disappointed but with the strength in depth we've got in this group it's not a hammer blow to us," said Broad.
"With Steven Finn coming back and bowling nicely we've got good depth to cover his niggle."
Broad suggested Anderson "could have played" if necessary, but with just five overs under his belt on tour and no bowling at all for the past three days that seems an optimistic interpretation.
Anderson may not be able to affect the game from the middle but his depth of knowledge and bowling brain can still be of use to England at Kingsmead.
"He's already announced himself as assistant bowling coach to Ottis Gibson," quipped Broad."
Vice-captain Joe Root was absent from training with an upset stomach, but is not thought to be a doubt for the Test. Even so, Gary Ballance was given a workout in the nets and provides cover for any of the top six slots.