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Jimmy Anderson to end Test career this summer as England look to future
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Jimmy Anderson to end Test career this summer as England look to future

Jimmy Anderson is set to bring the curtain down on his record-breaking England career this summer after face-to-face talks with the head coach, Brendon McCullum.

The Guardian understands McCullum recently made a whistle-stop five-day visit to the UK, travelling 11,000 miles from his home in New Zealand to meet Anderson and tell him in person, over a round of golf, that the Test team is looking to the future.

This primarily means building a seam attack for the next Ashes series in the winter of 2025-26, by which time Anderson will be 43. England play six Tests against West Indies and Sri Lanka this summer, including one against the latter on Anderson’s home ground, Old Trafford, in late August – and that will likely be it.

It speaks volumes about Anderson’s burning desire and commitment to fitness that a tap on shoulder has been required. Fresh from claiming his 700th Test wicket on the final day of England’s Test tour of India in March, the 41-year-old declared himself to be in the “best shape” he had ever been in and looking forward to the summer.

Equally, there was an acknowledgment that his place in the Test side was no longer a given after a low-key Ashes the previous summer and 18 wickets at 50 runs apiece from his last eight outings. “I’ve got to work hard to prove I’m worth a place,” Anderson told the Tailenders podcast.

McCullum and Ben Stokes have made a virtue of living in the present during their first two years as Test captain and head coach. They recalled Anderson and Stuart Broad at the start of their time together – they had been dropped for Joe Root’s final tour as captain – and looked to wring every last wicket out of the decorated pair.

While Broad called time at the end of last summer’s drawn Ashes series, choreographing his exit to perfection and claiming a wicket with his final ball in an England shirt, Anderson, four years his senior, was not minded to follow suit. Instead he was handed a new one-year central contract by Rob Key, the managing director of England cricket, and ploughed on into the winter.

But that 4-1 defeat in India – a first series defeat under Stokes and McCullum – has prompted a change of outlook; a realisation that their side’s ultra-aggressive, freewheeling approach needs “refinement” – McCullum’s word – and a deeper stable of new seam bowlers must be blooded in time for the next tour of Australia.

Asked at the end of the India tour whether Anderson could make that trip, McCullum replied: “I don’t know, honestly. Who knows where the end line for him is but for now, just enjoy having Jimmy around and make sure we utilise that experience he’s got. He’s a great resource for the other guys within the unit.”

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As well as cutting down on the number of voices in the dressing room, Anderson’s 20-plus years of Test knowhow are why McCullum has never had a fast bowling coach in his management setup. Unless a backroom role follows, this final summer represents one last chance for Anderson’s fellow seamers to mine that precious resource.

This includes Josh Tongue, Matthew Potts and Brydon Carse, all namechecked by McCullum during that India departure press conference. Whether Ollie Robinson is among them remains to be seen, England growing increasingly impatient with a seamer who, for all his abundant skill, pulls up lame in Test matches too often.

The 30-year-old Robinson’s fitness record sits in stark contrast to that of Anderson, who is set to play his 23rd season as a professional and will go into his final Test summer needing just nine more wickets to surpass Shane Warne’s career tally of 708 victims and sit second behind Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralirathan (800) in the all-time list.

Source: theguardian.com