Dubai: James Anderson, England’s leading wicket-taker in Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODIs), is unsure if he will be around for next year’s Ashes series.
In an interview with CNN’s Amanda Davies on Instagram Live, Anderson admitted that while he is desperate to get out and play, he is also being worried about re-starting the sport during the current pandemic situation.
The five-Test Match tour is scheduled to begin in November 2021 and end in January 2022 with England facing the hosts at the Gabba, Adelaide Oval, the WACA Ground, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“To be honest, I don’t even know if I’m going to make it to the next Ashes series. For me, it’s about the next game and what I can control. I don’t like looking too far ahead,” Anderson told Davies.
“You don’t know when you’re going to get your next injury as a bowler, especially for me over the last few months and last couple of years,” he added.
Now 37, ‘The King of Swing’ as he is known, is the all-time leading wicket-taker among fast bowlers surpassing Australian Glenn McGrath’s 563 wickets. He also holds the record of most wickets for England in both Test and ODI cricket while becoming the only English bowler, and the sixth overall, to pass 500 wickets in Test matches.
Since making his Test debut for England exactly 17 years back (May 22, 2003) against Zimbabwe, Anderson has gone on to bag 584 wickets in Tests and another 269 in ODIs for his country. But the 37-year-old still doesn’t know how long he can continue.
“I love playing cricket and that’s what I’m going to do for as long as I possibly can. If we can win in Australia, that would be amazing and – it’s hard to say because it’s so far ahead - but if I managed to play in that and we won, obviously I’d have to see how my body was at that point, but it might be a nice way to go out,” he said.
“As long as I’ve got that love for it, I’ll keep going. I don’t know when, retirement for me, it could be six months, it could be six years, who knows. You obviously start to think about it because you get to a certain age. This is when sportsmen and women are meant to retire, in their 30’s,” he added.
“As long as my body’s feeling good, why should I stop just because this is when people should retire. I love seeing people go into their 40’s and still performing at the top level. Why can’t I do that?” Anderson queried.
While personally “desperate to get out there and play,” Anderson admitted that he thinks it’s only natural for players to have worries about re-starting cricket during the global coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s just a human reaction to be nervous about this situation. We’ve got players in our team who have pregnant wives and the worry there is if they bring something back,” he offered.
“So I think what the ECB is doing is trying to make sure we really, really tick every box that we can to make sure the safety of the players and staff is paramount and make sure everything is in the right place so if and when we do join back up as a team before we start playing, we are as safe as we can be,” he added.
Anderson also discussed how cricket will have to adapt to avoid the spread of Covid-19, and that includes the idea of banning players from using saliva to shine the ball.
“It’s a massive thing for me because to get the ball to swing, you need to be able to polish the ball and repair it when it gets scuffs on it… It’ll be interesting to see what they do, but I certainly haven’t heard anything,” he accepted.
The England international was open to the idea of playing in front of no fans, as and when the authorities do give sport the green light.
“We’re lucky (in England) that most Test matches are sold out, certainly the first few days, we get big crowds so motivating yourself isn’t an issue. You just get out there in front of a packed house and it’s quite easy to get up for a game. I think we might have to lean on each other as players if there’s no crowd there, no atmosphere, we hear the sound of leather on willow echoing around the ground rather than the applause,” he recounted.
The cricketer was also wary of the possible impact the return can have to those around him, especially his family. “We’ve talked about it briefly. And I think as long as all the safety measures are in place, then I’ll be happy to go back and play,” he added.