It's not that much of a surprise, says Michael Atherton on James Anderson’s retirement

London, May 11 (IANS) Michael Atherton, the former England captain, feels veteran fast-bowler James Anderson choosing to retire after the first Test against West Indies at Lord’s, starting on July 10, is not much of a surprise as the side aims to build a fast-bowling attack for future.

On Saturday, Anderson announced that he has decided to call time on his Test career following the Lord’s Test against the West Indies, bringing an end to a long-standing and illustrious career in the longest format of the game, earning 187 caps for England so far.

Earlier this year, Anderson became the third bowler after Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan to reach the landmark of 700 Test wickets – the most by any fast bowler – earlier this year during England’s fifth and final match of their India tour at Dharamshala in March.

“The Ashes are two winters away. There’s absolutely no chance of a 43-year-old opening the bowling for England in The Ashes. I know that McCullum and Ben Stokes have always talked about living for the moment, living for now, but they also talk about planning for the future.”

“Everything we’ve heard coming out of the England camp at the start of the year has been about pace, strike rates, cutting edge in preparation for The Ashes and all the young bowlers that England have contracted have been of that type, so it’s not that much of a surprise,” said Atherton on Sky Sports.

He also felt Lord’s is the perfect venue for Anderson, England’s leading wicket-taker in Tests, to bid goodbye to international cricket.

“Given his career, the 20 years of magnificent performances that we’ve seen, I think it’s perfectly reasonable that he gets that Test match at Lords and hopefully he can get a great send-off.”

“I’m not particularly a big one for sentiment in terms of selection, but looking at what we’ve seen over the last two years, his average and strike rate is pretty much where it’s been throughout his career.”

“Although the numbers weren’t great in India, just in terms of the performance, it would be hard to argue that he’s still not amongst the best swing and seam bowlers that England have. If you’re picking a side today, you could make the argument that Jimmy Anderson deserves to be in the side.”

Similar views were echoed by former England skipper Nasser Hussain. “It started at Lord’s 21 years ago and it’s going to end at Lord’s. There won’t be a dry eye in the house. I’m pleased, fitness and selection permitting, he’s going to get that week at Lord’s. He deserves it.”

“Everything he’s done on and off the field, his fitness, form, skill and ability to come back from adversity is amazing. It will be a very emotional week at Lord’s but it’s a week he deserves. He deserves to be on that side. He is absolutely England’s best bowler with the Dukes ball. Anderson is arguably our greatest ever cricketer and deserves that week from the fans, for his fans and himself.”

Ian Ward, the former England cricketer, further talked about who could be Anderson’s long-term replacement in Tests. “There’s the Durham seamers, (Brydon) Carse and (Matthew) Potts, while (John) Turner of Hampshire has had a few injury problems. Olly Stone is now back playing for Nottinghamshire, but all of these names I’m reeling off here are very inexperienced.”

“That’s what Key, McCullum and Stokes want to get into them, they want to get them some Test experience because they’re looking to Australia. You don’t want to go and start playing in The Ashes if you’ve only played in a couple of Test matches.”

“The names I mentioned are all quick, they can all bowl 85mph plus, and that is what Rob Key stated quite strongly a month or so ago. He did also mention skill set and no one’s got a higher skill set than Jimmy Anderson, but they’re looking for pace. They want to get some experience into some of those younger, less experienced bowlers before going to Australia.”



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