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Jimmy Anderson to mentor England’s bowlers after final Test appearance
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Jimmy Anderson to mentor England’s bowlers after final Test appearance

Jimmy Anderson will take up a ­mentoring role with England’s bowlers this summer after making his final international appearance at Lord’s next week. Anderson has been selected for the first Test only against West Indies – his 188th Test match – allowing him to sign off in front of home fans after taking 700 wickets in a 22-year career.

Rob Key, the managing director of England men’s cricket, said the 41-year-old could be in line for a ­permanent coaching role if it goes well. “English cricket would be very lucky if he chooses to stay in our game,” he said. “Then we’ll have a look at the end of the summer. It might be ­something that he doesn’t think is the right fit or it might be something that he absolutely loves. But he’s got so much to offer English cricket, we don’t want to see that go to waste.

“It’s something that he’s very keen to do as well as. He hasn’t done loads of it [coaching], but there’s no question about his knowledge and experience with bowling.”

Anderson is playing for ­Lancashire against Nottinghamshire in the County Championship at ­Southport this week and is yet to make a ­decision on his future playing days in county cricket.

Key was speaking for the first time since England’s Test squad, complete with some noteworthy comings and goings, was announced on ­Sunday. With ­Anderson retiring, the ­Nottinghamshire pace bowler ­Dillon Pennington has been called up along with Surrey’s Gus Atkinson. Key ­confirmed Mark Wood will miss the start of the series to allow him to recover from the T20 World Cup and that Ollie Robinson “needs to get back to his best” to make a claim for reselection. “It’s not a time to be taking your foot off the gas at all, because there’s some really good bowlers out there.”

England named the uncapped Jamie Smith to keep wicket, ahead of Jonny Bairstow and his Surrey ­teammate, Ben Foakes, with Key describing him as a “rare talent”. The 23-year-old is averaging more than 50 in the County ­Championship this ­season and is thought to be able to offer a long-term option as a ­wicketkeeper/batter at Test level.

“Sometimes you’re selecting ­people for what they’re going to be and where you think they can progress to,” Key said. “It’s very much the start for Jamie Smith. We feel he’s going to be a fantastic international cricketer.”

On Bairstow, who played his 100th Test at Dharamsala in March during England’s 4-1 series defeat by India, Key said he “needs to get back to what he was a couple of years ago”. Bairstow reeled off six Test ­centuries in 2022 in the early months of the Ben Stokes and Brendon ­McCullum regime before a broken leg in a freak golf accident left him needing ­surgery. His form since the injury has not reached the same heights.

“Generally, his form, in all formats, has just been going slightly in the wrong direction,” Key said. “It’s an arduous task being a keeper and you want someone who can back up series after series. We weren’t convinced that Jonny would be able to do that, especially at the stage of his career that he’s at.”

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Key described Foakes as “probably the best wicketkeeper in the world” but that the England management want someone who can “up the ante at times when required” with the bat.

Key said no decision has been made on the future of the ­white-ball coach, Matthew Mott, and the ­captain, Jos Buttler, but stopped short of giving them any long-term endorsement. “We’ll let the dust settle on the World Cup and then move forward from there. For now, the focus is on the impending Test summer and building a side for the challenges that lie in wait.

“All good things come to an end,” Key said of Anderson’s final Test. “It’s going to be a special occasion, but it’s also a look to the future now.”

Source: theguardian.com