James Anderson is like a fine wine. The 36-year-old and leading wicket-taker for England in Test Cricket was in a jovial mood at Lancashire County Cricket Club’s media day.
The bowler looked as hungry as any other player to begin yet another season.
This time, The ‘King of Swing’ has a chance to play for his county for an extended spell this summer.
The World Cup is taking place in England and Wales this summer and as Anderson no longer plays one-day cricket, he can pull on the Red Rose shirt more than he usually would.
The Burnley-born bowler feels indebted to Lancashire and is looking forward to having a long stint at Old Trafford this summer.
He said: ‘’I can’t wait, I’ve had a good amount of time since the last Test Match for England.
‘’It’s exciting to have a stint here and give a bit back, I owe a lot to Lancashire, for what they’ve helped with me over the years, how they’ve helped me get to where I am.
‘’Hopefully we get off to a good start in the Championship.’’
The Red Rose were relegated from Division One but having a bowler with 575 Test Wickets, the most by a fast-bowler from any country, is a huge boost.
Anderson is expected to play in around seven County Championship games and believes promotion back to Division One has to be the main aim for the county.
He said: ‘’Promotion is what it’s all about, it won’t be easy, there’s some good teams in this division. We need to get off to a good start and show some consistency.”
Lancashire begin their County Championship season on the 11thof April against Middlesex at Lords’. Then, Lancashire have a long break from four-day cricket and play a block of Royal London One Day Cup matches.
Anderson jokingly played down his excitement to play one-day cricket for Lancashire, saying he ’wasn’t planning on playing in other competitions but the two oldest bowlers (Anderson and Graham Onions) are the only fit ones in the team.’
The fast-bowler did then state the importance of playing one-day cricket and said he was excited to play some rare 50-over cricket.
‘’I need to keep bowling and ticking over throughout the period.
‘’I am looking to play two or three out of the eight. I enjoy playing it, a bit exciting and a chance to experiment. However, I keep my fingers crossed that I don’t get smacked out of the ground too many times.”
The Burnley-born player was then asked about retirement but he scoffed at that question and says he is not ready to hang up his whites yet.
He said: ‘’I have no plans to retire and still feel fit enough to play. As long as I’m fit enough to play and still taking wickets, then I’ll keep playing.’’
Anderson, with a sense of realism, added: ‘’I have bills to play and a family to look after plus two young girls who are starting to spend money.’’
Anderson’s old teammate Alastair Cook retired from Test Cricket for England after scoring over 12,000 runs.
Cook has not retired from county cricket, though, deciding to play for his county Essex.
Anderson was quizzed about possibly replicating the route of Cook when he calls it a day for England, however the Lancashire bowler was non-committal.
‘’It’s hard to say, I don’t know when that’s going to be, If I retire this year from international cricket then I feel I’ll have a couple more years in me to possibly play for but I don’t know.’’
Anderson delivered another brilliant put-down. This time it was when he poked fun at Cook for having it easy as an opening batsman.
‘’What Alastair has put his body through compared with what I’ve put my body through doesn’t really compare so that’s why he can get another three years out of him.”
‘’Opening the batting, doesn’t take too much out of you, will just have to see how the body is and weigh it up at the time.”
The Ashes starts later this summer, in July, which Anderson will be playing a huge part in.
However, the World Cup is on the agenda first and the fast-bowler has enjoyed watching Eoin Morgan’s side progress in the last four years.
He said: ‘’The way they’ve improved over the last four years since the last World Cup has been astronomical and I’ve loved watching it.”
Anderson is hopeful of England going deep in the tournament but pinpointed the recent West Indies series as one which slightly altered his thinking.
‘’I’d be really disappointed if England don’t make the semis, I think before the one- day series against West Indies, my head was nailed on, we were definitely winning it.
‘’But then drawing 2-2 against West Indies, I know it’s slightly different conditions, but it didn’t necessarily told that England weren’t up to it, it just showed me West Indies, who had to qualify, are still a threat. So in my head now there are 10 teams who can get to the semi finals.”
Despite the showpiece event taking place in England, Anderson does not wish he was a part of the one-day set up.
‘’No I’m too old. It is a thankless task as a bowler with scores of 400 getting chased down, I’ll leave it up to them.’’
He is desperate, though, to reach a Lords’ final for Lancashire in the Royal London One Day Cup and has memories of playing there for the Red Rose in 2006.
He said: ‘’That’s what got me into cricket, watching Lancashire play one-day cricket and reaching finals.
‘’It’s been a while since we got to the final, I loved that era and as it’s the last final at Lords’, it’d be great to get there.’’
It’s set to be another action-packed summer for Anderson. The ‘King of Swing’ still has the desire of an 18-year-old and retirement is definitely out of the question for now.