James Anderson, who became the highest wicket-taking pace bowler in history when he passed Glenn McGrath at The Oval, has urged the England selectors to resist the temptation to rest him for either of this winter’s tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies.
Anderson claimed 24 wickets at 18.12 in the course of the five matches against India, and went past McGrath’s tally of 563 wickets by bowling Mohammed Shami with the final ball of the Test series against India. His performance defied pre-series reports that both he and Stuart Broad might need to be rested to cope with the demands of five Tests in six weeks, and it suggested that, at the age of 36, he is still operating at something close to his physical peak.
The England team management is considering blooding a couple of young fast bowlers with a view to planning for life beyond Anderson and Broad, who is expected to be out of action for a month after suffering a broken rib while batting at The Oval.
Anderson felt the natural break in the schedule – there are about eight weeks until England’s next Test starts in Sri Lanka on November 6 – provides time for them to rest, recover and prepare, even though he may yet be made available by the ECB to play for Lancashire in their final County Championship fixture, starting on September 24, depending on whether the club is still in with a chance of avoiding relegation.
“Myself and Stuart don’t play white-ball cricket so we have that time to be able to get ourselves in the right frame of mind and the right physical condition to cope with what’s ahead of us,” Anderson said. “I think I have enough time in between Test series to prepare myself well and get myself in good physical shape.
“We came into this five Test series in six weeks with question marks: will the bowlers get through? Will we need resting or will we get injuries? And we’ve done it. We pride ourselves on working hard.”
Anderson, who has now been playing Test cricket for more than 15 years, also refused to be drawn on a retirement date following the emotional scenes at the end of The Oval Test as his close friend Alastair Cook brought the curtain down on his England career.
“I don’t really think about it,” he said. “I play my best when I focus on what’s ahead of me: the next game, the next series, whatever. I’ll go away now – we have a decent break before Sri Lanka – and I’ll try to get myself in the best condition possible to cope with the rigours of bowling seam in Sri Lanka, which could be tough. Then we’ll see how it goes.
“I read something that Glenn McGrath said that he went into the 2006 Ashes with no intention of retiring and by the end of it he thought his time was up. That could happen to me. Who knows? I don’t like looking too far ahead. I don’t think it helps me or the team either, when we look too far ahead, whether it’s in a session or a day or a game. If you look too far ahead, you take your eye off the here and now and that’s what I like to focus on.”
Meanwhile, Anderson has hailed Sam Curran as “a diamond of a player” following England’s victory in the Test series over India.
Curran, aged just 20, was named Player of the Series and singled out for praise by India captain Virat Kohli in the post-match presentations at The Oval. He claimed 11 wickets at 23.54 and made a couple of vital half-centuries – including an aggressive 63 at Edgbaston which helped England recover from a precarious 87 for 7 – in averaging 38.85 with the bat.
After Kohli noted Curran’s “important contributions” as a defining feature in the result, Anderson was full of praise for both Curran’s skill and character, suggesting the all-round depth he provided would prove a huge asset for England.
“I think we’ve found a gem there,” Anderson said. “He’s an absolute diamond of a player to be able to score runs in crucial situations or to be given the ball in any situation. He’s extremely skilful with the ball and he loves the battle and the fight that Test cricket brings. He offers us that left-arm option as well.
“I think we’ve made really good strides in this series. We’ve had a really inconsistent period in Test cricket and it’s something that we’ve really tried to do something about and make sure we improve and put in more consistent performances. I think we’ve done that.
“We always knew we had a pretty strong team and some really exciting talent in there. We’re lucky that we’ve added to that this series.”