James Anderson has “a lot of cricket left in him,” according to his long-term new-ball partner, Stuart Broad.
Anderson was forced to admit defeat in his attempt to battle back from a calf injury to play in the final two Tests of the Ashes series. But despite his age – Anderson is now 37 – and the fact the injury has lingered longer than most expected, Broad says he “absolutely” expects to play Test cricket with him again.
Anderson originally sustained the injury while representing Lancashire at the start of July. Having missed the Test against Ireland, he was recalled for the first Test of the Ashes series but was forced off the pitch having bowled just four overs. After bowling 20 overs in the first innings of a second XI match for Lancashire in recent days, there was hope he would be fit for a recall for the fourth Test in Manchester. But he experienced a recurrence of the problem while bowling in the second innings and was subsequently ruled out for the rest of the season. That means he will finish this season without a Test wicket in an English summer for the first time since 2006.
Given Anderson’s age, it was inevitable that such an episode would provoke discussion over his future. Most fast bowlers have already retired by the time they are Anderson’s age but, such is his long-term fitness record and his desire to continue to represent England, few involved with the Test side expect him to retire at this stage. England play Test series in New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka over the 2019-20 season.
“He has a lot of cricket left in him,” Broad said. “From the conversations I’ve had with him, he’s looking at the winter and getting fit and wanting to be on that trip.
“I had in my mind the idea that it was almost written in the stars that he would be back and open the bowling at the James Anderson End and bowl us to victory. But that’s not going to happen.
“I called him straight away when I heard the news on social media. He said, ‘I just need to get it right for the winter tours now’.
“He’s obviously very disappointed. He’s put his heart and soul into getting back to full fitness. He’s done everything he possibly could. So he’s frustrated. He’s going to have a period of time of ifs and buts – what if I’d done this; could I have done that – but also it’s important for him to have a bit of a break and look forward to future challenges. I think he’s realistic.”
It’s not impossible Broad and Anderson could play together in New Zealand. While England had originally planned to rest their top players from the New Zealand Test series, which is not part of the World Test Championship (WTC), there is now more thought towards resting players from the T20I series that precedes it and playing something like a full-strength side in the Tests. This would not only underline the side’s new prioritisation of the red ball game – something that may become a feature of Ashley Giles’ tenure as director of the men’s side – but ensure they are well prepared ahead of the four-match Test series against South Africa that follows soon afterwards.
Either way, Broad felt that the cycle of change that has tended to coincide with the end of the Ashes series – they have marked the end of many careers – may be altered by the introduction of the WTC.
“It’s quite exciting with this World Test Championship,” Broad said. “It doesn’t feel like the Ashes series is the new cycle anymore, it feels like that World Test Championship Final is the new cycle. I know a few of the older players are looking more towards that than an Ashes series.”
England’s training on Monday was curtailed by rain in Manchester. With Graham Thorpe absent with a back injury, Jonathan Trott filled in as a batting coach – he is with the team for the two training days ahead of the match – with Mark Chilton, one of the Lancashire coaches, and Ant Botha, one of the Nottinghamshire coaches, also helping out. Several fringe Lancashire players bowled to both sides in the nets, with 18-year-old left-arm spinner Jack Morley impressing while bowling to Steve Smith.