Jimmy Anderson approaches the latest milestones of his record-breaking career with an acknowledgment of his good fortune regarding injury and an insistence that his preference has always been to do it the hard way.
Anderson’s 19th summer as a Test cricketer begins with him one cap from equalling Alastair Cook’s England record of 161, while a further eight wickets would make him the first English seamer to reach 1,000 first-class wickets since Andy Caddick in 2005.
Achieving both feats would further underline the 38-year-old’s remarkable longevity even if, speaking at an event for series sponsors LV= before Wednesday’s first Test against New Zealand, he cannot quite believe it himself.“It does make me feel proud,” said Anderson, when asked about the prospect of drawing level with Cook. “I never imagined in a million years I’d get to this point. Certainly for a bowler to play this amount of games is … a bit mind-blowing, because I don’t feel like I’ve played that many.
“My body doesn’t feel old or tired, it’s just incredible. I absolutely love Test cricket, I’ve got a huge passion for it. Growing up, all I wanted to do is play Test cricket for England and I’m honoured I’ve been able to do it for this long.”
On reaching four figures in the wickets column, he said: “[It] does seem like a lot. I’ve been so lucky with injuries when you look around cricketers in England and the people who get long lay-offs like Jofra [Archer] at the minute. I think about Simon Jones, whose career was seriously affected by injury.
“Of course you get injuries and have to bowl when it hurts a bit. But I get some pleasure out of that. Putting the hard yards in, that’s when it means the most. Bowling 10 overs on a green seamer doesn’t really do it for me. I want to put a shift in for the team when it’s tough.”
It remains to be seen what surface the groundsman, Karl McDermott, prepares when Lord’s hosts its first major match since 2019, so, too, how England whittle down the six seamers in their squad. As Stuart Broad recently said, Anderson believes the senior new-ball pairing still make the best XI at home.
“It’s completely down to the coach and captain and what their thinking is. I think, from a team’s point of view, we want to get some momentum going into, into a big summer. [Broad and I] have sent a few texts to each other saying it’d be nice if we did get to play together,” Anderson said. “So hopefully, if we do pick our strongest team, we’d like to think we’re both in that.”
England’s opponents, New Zealand, will face India in the inaugural World Test Championship final in a biosecure environment at the Ageas Bowl. The five-day showpiece will be held in Southampton from 18-22 June after the event was granted an exemption by the UK government.