• Jimmy Anderson is doubtful for Boxing Day Test against South Africa
  • Anderson was sent for a scan on his right calf on Tuesday 
  • He will discover on Thursday if he will be fit to take part in training 
  • Coach Trevor Bayliss admits ‘concern’ but hopes for quick recovery

Paul Newman for the Daily Mail

England have suffered a serious setback ahead of their series against South Africa with news that Jimmy Anderson is doubtful for the Boxing Day Test.

Anderson was sent for scans on his right calf having experienced soreness ever since he arrived on this tour and is running out of time to prove his fitness ahead of the first of four Tests that follow here in rapid succession.

‘Unfortunately Jimmy’s had a bit of a tight calf muscle,’ said England coach Trevor Bayliss. ‘We’re just waiting on some test results now and hopefully we’ll know in the next day or two.’

Jimmy Anderson, England’s record wicket-taker, is doubtful for the Boxing Day Test against South Africa 

Jimmy Anderson, England’s record wicket-taker, is doubtful for the Boxing Day Test against South Africa 

Anderson (left) winds up to bowl during a nets session in Pietermaritzburg last Saturday 

Anderson (left) winds up to bowl during a nets session in Pietermaritzburg last Saturday 

Anderson, the first Englishman to take 400 Test wickets, will be a key figure in the series against South Africa 

Anderson, the first Englishman to take 400 Test wickets, will be a key figure in the series against South Africa 

England’s record wicket-taker will discover on Christmas Eve whether he will be fit to take part in England’s training session in Durban that will decide if he can take his place at Kingsmead.

‘At this stage he’s only just had the scans done,’ said Bayliss. ‘They have gone back to England and we’ll make the decision when we get the results back.’

It would be a huge blow to England if the leader of their attack is ruled out of a first Test that will set the tone for a series in which they will take on the No 1 ranked team in the world on their own patch.

Anderson, the first Englishman to take 400 Test wickets, is as important to the side as ever and is a key figure in a series where seam and swing are sure to be decisive on pitches expected to assist the fast bowlers.

Dale Steyn, arguably the only bowler in world cricket better than Anderson, has been passed fit for South Africa after injury problems of his own and the head-to-head battle between the two should be one of the highlights of the series.

England do not believe the problem is serious and are hopeful that he will be fit for the second Test in Cape Town that begins only two days after the first is due to end even if he is ruled out of Saturday’s match in Durban.

‘Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to bowl a lot of overs on this tour but he has bowled, though, so whatever it is it’s not a terribly bad one,’ said Bayliss. ‘It’s always a concern if your leading bowler misses a game somewhere but the last time he missed one we did pretty well. You never know.’

England are well-stocked with fast bowlers in their Test squad with the addition of Steven Finn (pictured)

England are well-stocked with fast bowlers in their Test squad with the addition of Steven Finn (pictured)

If Anderson's right calf rules him out of the first Test, England are likely to select Chris Woakes 

If Anderson’s right calf rules him out of the first Test, England are likely to select Chris Woakes 

That game Anderson missed came when he was ruled out of the fourth Test against Australia last summer and Stuart Broad stepped up spectacularly to lead the attack by taking eight for 15 in an Ashes clinching victory at Trent Bridge.

And at least England are well stocked with fast bowlers in what has become a 17-man Test squad here after the addition of Steven Finn, who seems to have proved his own fitness with six wickets in the win against South Africa A.

Finn will play in Durban as long as there is no reaction to the stress fracture of his left foot that kept him out of the loss to Pakistan even if Anderson proves his fitness and takes the new ball alongside Broad.

If Anderson is ruled out now England are likely to turn to Chris Woakes, the outstanding bowler in the first match against an Invitational XI in Potchefstroom, ahead of newcomer Mark Footitt and Chris Jordan.

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