England star James Anderson has been ruled out of the remainder of the Ashes series with a calf injury, a serious blow to the hosts’ hopes of beating Australia.

Anderson, England’s record wicket-taker, has not bowled in the series since breaking down with the injury after delivering just four overs in Australia’s 251-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston.

The 37-year-old Lancashire paceman had tried to get fit for the fourth Test at Old Trafford starting on Wednesday. But after bowling during a second XI match against Durham this week he was on Friday declared unfit for the final two Tests.

Somerset’s Craig Overton has been named in England’s 13-man squad for Old Trafford.

On the same day Australia had better news, with star batsman Steve Smith proving his fitness by playing in his first competitive game since suffering concussion after being felled by fast bowler Jofra Archer in the second Test.

Smith, in the middle for 47 minutes in Australia’s three-day match against Derbyshire, faced 38 balls and struck two fours on his way to a total of 23 before he was caught in the deep.

Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, said Anderson’s absence would hurt England: “It’s obviously a big loss for them. He has a wealth of experience.

“I daresay it’s probably his last chance to play in an Ashes at home so I’m sure he will be shattered.

“He must be devastated. As a human being, you feel sorry for him. You want to be playing against the best and he’s obviously one of the best ever,” Marsh added. (AFP)