James Anderson news: Veteran England quick still has the ‘hunger and passion’

James Anderson

James Anderson admitted he is “praying” his record-breaking England career is not over following his controversial omission from the upcoming Test tour of the West Indies.

Anderson and Stuart Broad, placed first and second in the list of England’s all-time leading Test wicket-takers, both found themselves surplus to requirements for next month’s three-match series in the Caribbean.

The decision, made by a selection panel headed up by interim director of cricket Sir Andrew Strauss, bemused many observers and Broad revealed in his Mail on Sunday column that he struggled to sleep in the days afterwards.

Stuart Broad, left, and James Anderson have taken a combined 1,177 Test wickets (Jason O'Brien/PA)
Stuart Broad, left, and James Anderson have taken a combined 1,177 Test wickets (Jason O’Brien/PA)

But Anderson, who like Broad hit out at having just a short telephone conversation with Strauss explaining his exclusion from the tour, insisted there was no thought of retirement despite turning 40 this July.

“It’s been a weird couple of weeks,” Anderson said on the BBC Tailenders podcast. “I’ve just been trying to process what’s gone on. Obviously it was a bit of a shock and a disappointment to get that call to say I am not going.

“There’s been quite a few texts between myself and Broady in particular, getting some initial frustration and anger out but I think once that was gone, it’s really now trying to look to stuff we can affect.

“I still feel like I’ve got the hunger and passion to play. I feel in great shape, I just want to keep bowling.

“I’m praying this isn’t the end but if I never play for England again, I know I’ve got amazing people around me to support me. I’ve now got to try to focus on stuff that I can control and that’s playing cricket.”

England captain Joe Root was not part of the selection panel and shied away from whether he agreed with Anderson and Broad being left out, echoing Strauss’ assertion that this does not spell the end for the two fast bowlers.

They have a combined 1,177 Test wickets and underlining their absence is that no quick selected for the Windies trip has reached 200 scalps – only Ben Stokes (167) and Chris Woakes (125) are into triple digits.

Root, looking to bounce back from England’s Ashes loss, revealed he has talked to Anderson and Broad and recognises their frustrations but the Yorkshireman is adamant a summer return for the pair is a distinct possibility.

“I’ve spoken both to Stuart and Jimmy and they’re obviously disappointed, angry and you’d expect that,” Root said. “At no point – it’s been made very clear – no one is saying this is the end for them.

“The guys that are on the tour have got a real opportunity to step into some slightly different roles, to grow themselves as players within this team and to strengthen what could be the backbone of this team moving forward.

“It would be great to see Stuart and Jimmy very much in the mix at the start of the summer as well. If we’re in a position where they can come back into this team, then great, that’s only going to strengthen things.”

Anderson’s average of 23.37 in this winter’s Ashes was the lowest of all England’s bowlers and while he has amassed 640 wickets at 26.58 in a Test career approaching 19 years, Anderson pointed out he is getting better with age.

Indeed, in the 44 Tests since his 35th birthday Anderson has taken 160 wickets at a supreme 21.72.

England captain Joe Root sees no reason why Anderson and Broad cannot return in the summer (Jason O'Brien/PA)
England captain Joe Root sees no reason why Anderson and Broad cannot return in the summer (Jason O’Brien/PA)

“I think another frustration for me over the last couple of weeks is a five-minute phone call doesn’t really clear much up for you,” Anderson added, referring to his chat with Strauss earlier this month.

“I do still feel like I’ve got a lot to offer. Since I’ve turned 35 my record’s got even better so I know that I’m not slowing down, I’m not losing anything.

“I’ve got one more go at digging deep, I’ve dug deep quite a lot over the last 20 years but I still love playing the game, I still loved bowling out in Australia even though the results didn’t go our way.

“All I can do is focus on Lancashire and the start of the season and have a good run with them in the first couple of months of the season and try to bowl as well as I can for them.”