James Anderson has refused to rest on his laurels after becoming the first paceman to take 600 test wickets, revealing that England captain Joe Root wanted him to feature in the 2021-22 Ashes tour of Australia.
Anderson became only the fourth bowler after three retired spinners — Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800 wickets), Australia’s Shane Warne (708) and India’s Anil Kumble (619) — to achieve the feat when he had Pakistan captain Azhar Ali well caught by first slip Root at the Ageas Bowl on Tuesday.
Anderson will be nearly 40 when England begin their quest to regain the urn from their archrivals.
But although he has now played a mammoth 156 tests, Anderson insisted there was no reason why he couldn’t still be a key member of England’s attack Down Under.
“To be honest I’ve chatted to Rooty about this a little bit and he has said he would like me to be in Australia,” Anderson told reporters after a match, marred by bad weather, ended in a draw to give England a 1-0 win in a three-test series.
At 38, Anderson — an England international for 17 years — is already at an age where many pacemen of previous generations have long since retired.
But his hunger for wickets shows no sign of being sated, even though he has already enjoyed the rare experience for an England cricketer of starring in a victorious Ashes campaign in Australia, in 2010-11.
“I don’t see any reason why I can’t be (involved),” he said.
“I’m working hard on my fitness all the time, working hard on my game. I didn’t bowl as well as I’d have liked for the whole summer but this test match I was really on it and I feel like I’ve still got stuff to offer this team,” added Anderson, who finished with match figures of 7-101 following his 29th five-wicket test haul in the first innings.
“As long as I still feel like that I think I’ll keep going.
“There will be decisions along the way with the selectors and coach and captain, around how the team moves forward, but as long as they want me around I’ll keep working hard and try to prove I’m good enough to play in this team.”
The Lancashire swing bowler added, “I still love turning up every day at training, putting in the hard yards and being in the dressing room with the lads trying to forge a win for England.
“That’s all I’ve really ever bothered about and what I’ll keep trying to do. I don’t think I’ve won my last test matches as an England cricketer yet.”
While England were able to stage ‘bio-secure’ series against both Pakistan and the West Indies this season, there is no certainty as to when they will next play a test amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It felt amazing to get 600 wickets, but even if I didn’t get it here there are worse numbers to be stuck on for a few months than 599, so I’d have been happy either way,” said Anderson, who was happy to see Root feature in his landmark achievement.
“But it means a huge amount to see Joe taking the catch, I have played loads of test cricket with Joe and also with Stuart Broad. I was fortunate enough to be out on the field for his 500th wicket (last month) and it has meant a lot to both of us.”
Meanwhile, Root paid tribute to Anderson, saying, “There’s no one that can touch him really, he’s that far ahead of everyone else in my opinion.
“He’s a brilliant senior player — you couldn’t ask for a better role model and someone to learn off. He’s a credit to our country.”