Jimmy Anderson: Ready for one final spell at Lord’s, where it all began

The call of 700 Test wickets may have influenced him to overstay his welcome a bit

Jimmy Anderson refuses to stand down (photo: @MdAsiqulIslam6/X)
Jimmy Anderson refuses to stand down (photo: @MdAsiqulIslam6/X)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

In the best of times, James Anderson would have wanted to mark his run-up against Australia in the 2025–26 Ashes series as his farewell Test.

However, the master of swing will take his last bow at Lord’s instead of Down Under — Lord's being the venue where his journey began 23 summers back, with a fifer against Zimbabwe. So yes, we will see him break into his famous economic run-up against the West Indies from Wednesday, 10 July, one last time.

The sense of occasion will certainly weigh heavy on the 41-year-old — indeed, it threatens to overshadow the outcome of the match-up against Kraigg Brathwaite’s men.

Anderson, the only fast bowler in Test cricket’s history to have reached 700 wickets — the highest wicket-taker for England by a country mile — has stayed true to his work ethic at the nets, wanting to go out in a blaze of glory, saying:

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 [that] it’s now is something I’ve got to deal with and accept. The last couple of months I’ve made peace with that," Anderson told the media on Monday, 8 July, setting sports fans up for a massive social media meltdown over whether he was being dragged unwillingly into retirement. What Anderson said: "I can completely understand the decision and the way the team and management want to go.’’

A 7 for 35 for Lancashire against Nottinghamshire last week may vindicate his words, but the writing on the wall has been clear a while, with the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) cotton-wooling him for years to preserve his career.

When Anderson announced in May that the upcoming first Test against the Caribbeans would be his last, not many eyebrows were raised.

His last away Test series against India ended in a whimper, as not only did England lose it 4–1 despite a promising start, the veteran admitted to missing his ‘last dance’ with Virat Kohli as the former India captain gave the series a skip for other personal priorities.

While he managed to keep his date with the 700th Test wicket in somewhat conducive conditions in the final Test at Dharamsala, the fizz was somewhat missing.

The choice before the England think tank was clear: Going forward, they needed to look beyond Anderson, as by the time the next Ashes came around, he would be 43.

There is also a feeling among many that he had let go of a glorious opportunity to walk into the golden sunset in style, alongside his partner-in-crime Stuart Broad, who signed off from all forms of cricket after the Ashes ended in a 2–2 draw at The Oval in November 2023.

Broad, who finished on 604 wickets from 167 Tests, revealed in his autobiography Broadly Speaking later that he made up his mind to call time on his career after a chat with his friend and old captain Alastair Cook, relying on his sage advice.  

Anderson, then so tantalisingly poised for the 700-wicket haul (which makes him currently the third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket after Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne), duly kept his date with that milestone before he was put on notice by the ‘three big dogs’ in May. In a private meeting convened between him and Rob Key, the England men’s managing director, Test coach Brendon McCullum and Test captain Ben Stokes, Anderson was told that it was time for them to look beyond him.

‘’I saw their point of view and appreciated them taking the time out to lay it out for me, the reasoning and stuff like that,’’ Anderson said.

The upcoming Test series being a three-match affair, the British media says that Anderson will stay on with the England camp as a mentor.

He would be a much sought-after name thereafter in the com box, too, to join the likes of Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain, while his vast repertoire of seam bowling and experience of Subcontinental conditions could makes him a go-to resource for franchise cricket as well. (During his playing days, Anderson has not been a big fan of that variety of cricket, however; even his pre-match address wanted young English players to embrace Test cricket and not just "chase the dollars".)

Well, embracing the longer format and then trying to emulate this man is a tough act to follow. It’s nothing short of extraordinary to survive for two decades in his trade, play 188 Tests (including the upcoming one, which makes him only second after Sachin Tendulkar’s 200 appearances) and bowl nearly 40,000 deliveries when he is done.

Thanks, 'Jimmy' they don’t make men like you any more!

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