Giggs-inspired Anderson wants to play till 40
James Anderson hopes to be fit for the series against New Zealand later this year. (AFP Image)

A calf injury forced James Anderson out of the Ashes but the England fast bowler seems to be in no mood of giving up cricket just yet. Instead, Anderson, 37, England’s leading Test wicket-taker, who is currently recovering from the injury is targetting the New Zealand Tests and is aiming to draw inspiration from none other than football legend Ryan Giggs.

“It has been absolutely devastating to miss The Ashes series but I have not thought for one second about retiring. In fact, I’m going to look into how Ryan Giggs was able to play football at the highest level until he was 40. That’s what I’d like to do,” Anderson wrote in his column for The Sun.

“I am meeting the physios and medical people this week to map out a programme to try to make sure I’m fit for the tour to New Zealand. The Test squad leaves on November 6. I’m 37 now, and it definitely feels possible to play until I’m 40, if the hunger is still there. And it certainly is at the moment.”

Anderson admits he was frustrated with the growing list of injuries. He first injured his calf while playing for Lancashire and even though he had passed a fitness Test to be drafted in England’s Playing XI for the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston, the fast bowler pulled up after bowling just four overs in the first innings. Anderson eventually was ruled out of the tournament.

“I really enjoyed playing for Lancashire in the first half of the summer before the calf injury. My bowling was as good as it’s been for a few years. I felt in great nick. As long as I’m bowling well with good energy, enthusiasm and desire, I’ll keep going,” he said.

“That’s what made the injury so frustrating. I bowled loads for Lancashire with terrific rhythm and even played some one-day cricket for the county. My first-class bowling average was below ten. I have plenty in the tank especially after this last couple of months of rehab.

“I feel stronger than I have for many years because of all the training and fitness work. Obviously, I need to get this calf sorted out. That’s my next priority. With the medics’ help, I’ll investigate every possible avenue and get my muscles as strong as they can be.”

Weighing in on the debate surrounding Joe Root and if he should continue as captain, Anderson backed the 30-year-old and reckoned the current England skipper is the right man to lead the team. Root has had a pretty ordinary series by his standards, scoring three half-centuries but also three ducks. Ben Stokes has emerged as a front-runner for the post given his shiny form but Anderson feels it’s too early to hand the allrounder a responsibility as big and crucial as captaincy.

“Joe Root has had three ducks, that’s a big difference right there because Joe is the one we look to score the bulk of our runs. There are some mutterings about Joe’s future as captain. But I think he is doing a very good job,” Anderson said.

“We’ve had a couple of tough years, especially since Cooky retired and we’ve been trying to find a couple of opening batsman. We’re going in the right direction and I think Joe is the man to lead us forward.

“Who could take over anyway? Ben Stokes is a leader in the group and is doing a fantastic job as vice-captain. But giving him the captaincy might be a step too far. He has enough on his plate as batsman, bowler, fielder and leader in all formats.”