James Anderson begins long final lap fitter than ever with motivation undimmed – Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: June 3, 2021 at 1:47 am


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If this is the start of the final lap for James Anderson and Stuart Broad then both stand on the start line this week determined to leave younger bowlers trailing in their wake.

The Lords LV=Insurance Test against the worlds no 1 side New Zealand on Wednesday will be a special moment with the return of fans starved of England cricket 12 months, the opening to supporters of the rebuilt Compton-Edrich stands and the record-equalling feat of Anderson playing his 161st Test at the ground where it all started in 2003.

Anderson will pull level with Sir Alastair Cook as Englands most capped player and, if he has his way with the selectors, go past his old captain at Edgbaston next week. It does make me feel proud. I never imagined in a million years Id get to this point, he said. For a bowler to play this amount of games is a bit mind-blowing. There is also the small matter of needing eight wickets for his 1000th in first-class cricket. There would be no better occasion than a Lords Test to become almost certainly the last pace bowler to reach four figures.

Broad for his part is determined this will be the first of seven Tests this summer, and both want to share the new ball again, holding off younger alternatives. It is a long way from 12 months ago when Broad was not considered a first choice pick anymore and left out of the first Test of the summer.

Broad turns 34 and Anderson 39 soon and its inevitable, no matter how much it annoys Anderson, that thoughts move to the future and life without them. England are now in serious danger of losing both legendary bowlers at the same time, a fate they wanted to avoid. It took Australian cricket years to fill the vacuum left by Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist retiring together and West Indies cricket has never replaced Ambrose and Walsh, who departed at the Oval in 2000.

It could end suddenly for Anderson. He knows that. But he looks fitter than ever, and the motivation to keep running in remains undimmed.

There have been ups and downs for both recently. Anderson was a little flattered by his numbers last summer, and bowled only four overs in the 2019 Ashes. Broad had a wonderful time against Pakistan and West Indies last year but was ineffective in India, while Anderson produced one of his great overs in the fine win in Chennai.

The Duke ball will feel like a comfort blanket for Broad after the winter and while the James Anderson End is at Emirates Old Trafford, it should really be at Lords where he has a superior record and 103 wickets. He has not played at Lords since 2018 but no bowler knows how to calibrate his angles of attack for the slope better than Anderson.

Chris Silverwood and Joe Root have committed to picking a genuine pace bowler when one is available and even without Jofra Archer they have Mark Wood and Olly Stone in the squad. One should play each of the Tests against New Zealand but the absence of Ben Stokes makes balancing the side that bit harder. Ollie Robinson and Craig Overton also need experience before Australia this winter. In Robinsons case to judge whether he is good enough, and for Overton to prove his extra pace at county level can be effective higher up against a strong New Zealand batting side.

Jack Leach could be squeezed out for an all seam attack, plus Joe Root, but that would be deflating for him and send a poor message after a winter in which he has become Englands no 1 spinner.

Anderson will point to other sporting stars defying time; Phil Mickelson winning last weeks PGA at 50, Tom Brady the Superbowl aged 43 and Roger Federer playing the French Open after overcoming two knee operations at 39. Unlike Cook, who was worn down by Test cricket at the end, Andersons still has the vibrancy of a younger man.

My body doesnt feel old or tired, its just incredible. I absolutely love Test cricket, Ive got a huge passion for it. Growing up, thats all I wanted to do is play Test cricket for England and Im honoured Ive been able to do it for this long, he said. The butterflies are still there. Theres something incredibly special about turning up for the first Test of the summer at Lords. The atmosphere around that ground is something you dont experience anywhere else in the world.

Central contracts and enforced retirement from one-day cricket after the 2015 have made such longevity possible. Since they were left out of the one-day side after the 2015 World Cup (Broad played two ODIs a year later in South Africa but thats it) only spinners Nathan Lyon and Ravi Ashwin have taken more Test wickets than Anderson and Broad. Both have better averages and economy rates than their overall career records too since playing just Test cricket. No wonder Anderson calls it an absolute god-send.

It has extended his career into a 19th Test summer and he has been around so long he played with the last two pace bowlers to take 1,000 wickets - Martin Bicknell and Andy Caddick.

I'm feeling fresh. And if we do pick our strongest team we'd (Broad) like to think that we're both in that. And we'd love to share the new ball together, yes.

Dont bet against Anderson saying exactly the same thing in 12 months time. This last lap may be one of the longest yet.

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James Anderson begins long final lap fitter than ever with motivation undimmed - Telegraph.co.uk

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June 3rd, 2021 at 1:47 am

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