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James Anderson 'praying' for England recall after West Indies axe

England's James Anderson celebrates after taking the wicket of India's Virat Kohli during a Test match at Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds in 2021

FILE - England's James Anderson celebrates after taking the wicket of India's Virat Kohli during a Test match at Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds in 2021. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP

Published Feb 23, 2022

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London — England great James Anderson hopes his record-breaking international career has not been ended following his dramatic omission from the upcoming tour of the West Indies.

Both Anderson and Stuart Broad, England's two all-time leading Test wicket-takers, have been left out of next month's three-match series in the Caribbean as part of a major shake-up following a humiliating 4-0 loss in Australia.

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The controversial call was made by a selection panel headed by interim director of cricket Andrew Strauss — his predecessor Ashley Giles and England coach Chris Silverwood were both sacked after the Ashes debacle.

But even though he will turn 40 in July, Anderson — whose 640 Test wickets are the most taken by any fast bowler in history — said Wednesday he had no plans to retire.

"It's been a weird couple of weeks," Anderson told the BBC Tailenders podcast. "I've just been trying to process what's gone on. Obviously it was a bit of a shock and a disappointment to get that call to say I am not going.

"I'm praying this isn't the end."

'Not losing anything'

Anderson, in contrast to the conventional wisdom that says quicker bowlers decline after turning 35, believes he is getting better with age — and the figures prove him right.

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Not only was Anderson's average of 23.37 in the Ashes the lowest of all England's bowlers, in the 44 Tests since his 35th birthday he has taken 160 wickets at a miserly 21.72.

"I do still feel like I've got a lot to offer," he said. "Since I've turned 35 my record's got even better so I know that I'm not slowing down, I'm not losing anything.

"I've got one more go at digging deep, I've dug deep quite a lot over the last 20 years but I still love playing the game, I still loved bowling out in Australia even though the results didn't go our way."

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England captain Joe Root, speaking ahead of the squad's departure Thursday, echoed Strauss in saying he too had told Anderson and Broad their Test careers were not finished.

"At no point — it's been made very clear — no one is saying this is the end for them," said Root.

England have won just one Test series in the Caribbean since 1968 and Root stressed the omission of Anderson and Broad in no way meant the upcoming campaign was a "development tour".

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"I'm very passionate, I want England to win, I'm as big a fan as anyone watching," said Root.

Anderson and Broad have taken a combined 1,177 Test wickets. None of the fast bowlers selected for the West Indies have taken 200, with only Ben Stokes (167) and Chris Woakes (125) into three figures.

Woakes has an expensive bowling average of 52.38 in overseas Tests, compared to 22.63 in England.

Root, however, said he had "not had the opportunity to bowl with the new ball away from home".

"But it's not just Chris, it's other guys who can step up as well," said Root.

"The likes of Mark Wood had a fantastic tour of Australia, bowled with heart, great passion, speed, endurance, being able to do it for long periods of time. It's a chance for him to grow and develop as a player as well.

"And really, I want those guys (to) step into that void and enjoy that challenge, and enjoy becoming more senior within the group."

The series begins in Antigua on March 8, with the second Test in Barbados commencing on March 16 and the third in Grenada starting on March 24.

AFP

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England CricketCricket

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