Anderson eager to contribute in last Test after making peace with reality of retirement

London: Veteran fast bowler James Anderson said he is eager to make contributions in his last Test for England, starting on July 10 against the West Indies at Lord’s, after making peace with the realisation of retiring from international cricket.

Anderson had earned 187 caps for England since his debut in 2003 and will end his international career during the Lord’s Test against the West Indies, a venue where ironically he began his Test career. His warm-up for his last Test appearance began with a seven-wicket haul for Lancashire against Nottinghamshire at the county championship last week.

Earlier this year, Anderson became the third bowler after Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan to reach the landmark of 700 Test wickets – the most by any fast bowler — earlier this year during England’s fifth and final match of their India tour at Dharamshala in March.

“I feel like I’m still bowling as well as I ever have. But I knew it had to end at some point. Whether it’s now or in a year or two. The fact it’s now is something I’ve got to deal with and accept. The last couple of months I’ve made peace with that. I can completely understand the decision and the way the team and management want to go,” said Anderson to reporters in a press conference.

“Whether it’s now, a year or two years…the fact that it is now is just something I have to deal with and accept. I don’t have any regrets. I have played hundreds of games for England, in both white ball and red ball. I have played longer than a lot of people get the opportunity to do. I have played with a lot of people more talented than me who didn’t get the chance to play due to injury or whatever, so I feel blessed to take the amount of wickets I have,” he said.

“I’d love just to be able to contribute somehow this week. Whether it’s one wicket or whatever it is, I’d love just to make a small contribution and win the game. I’m actually really excited about what I can contribute to this team, certainly for the rest of this summer and maybe further than that,” Anderson said.

After his international playing career draws to a close, Anderson will remain with England’s Test side for the rest of the home summer as a fast-bowling mentor. But he is still undecided over whether he will carry on playing for Lancashire, with a bowling end named after him at Old Trafford.

“I am really excited about what I can contribute to this team for the rest of the summer and, who knows, maybe beyond that. Coaching is something I have thought about. I feel my role over the last few years has been to mentor the younger guys and help them settle and feel comfortable. I think I have a lot to offer in terms of my experiences in Test cricket.”

“The likelihood is this week is my last game of first-class cricket this season, but we’ll have to see what happens. My emotions are a bit all over the place at the moment. I want to make that decision thinking clearly. “If I feel like I can still contribute to Lancashire then I’m sure that conversation will happen in the next few months,” he said.

Asked about his emotions ahead of his final Test, Anderson said, “I feel pretty normal, I am trying not to think too much about the game itself yet or how I’d feel about it. The big thing for me this week is wanting to play well, bowl well, and get a win. I’m sure the emotions will change through the week but that’s what I’m focusing on to stop myself crying!”

Anderson signed off by saying he is extremely proud of the longevity of his international cricket career. “The fact (that) I will be playing my 188th Test at just short of 42 years of age makes me most proud. The fact I have been able to play this long, the fact I have committed to playing this long and trying to push myself to be the best I possibly can be. That is all I have ever done.”

“Even though I know I only have one game left, I have tried as hard as I ever have to get myself in a position where I can bowl well for the team. To have been able to contribute to Test victories is something that when I do look back on my career will make me most proud. I am going to be able to sit back over the next few years and be incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved.”

–IANS

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