England pacer James Anderson believes cricketers playing test matches in their 40s will soon be a thing of the past because of the changing nature of the sport.
Anderson, who turned 40 last month, made his test debut against Zimbabwe in May 2003 and has gone on to claim 657 wickets in 172 matches. He is still going strong and is set to lead the England attack in the first test of the three-match series against South Africa, starting Wednesday at Lord's.
Graham Gooch, an opening batter, was the last men's test player to play for England in their forties, making his final appearance at the age of 41 in November 1994. The last seamer to represent England in that age bracket was Les Jackson, who made the last of his two test appearances at the age of 40 — 12 years after his debut — in 1961.
Anderson said long-time teammate Stuart Broad, who is 36, might go on to be a 40-year-old test cricketer but doubts anyone else will.
"No one will be stupid enough,” Anderson said.
“Everything that has gone in the world with franchise cricket, the Hundred, short forms of the game, I can’t see anyone wanting to play test cricket for this long.”
Anderson was dropped for the tour of the West Indies in March before returning to the team this summer for the series against New Zealand and then the one-off test with India, where he claimed a 32nd five-wicket haul of his remarkable career.
Anderson said his passion for the game remains.
“I feel proud I’ve got to where I have. I feel fortunate as well that I’ve still got the love for the game and the desire to get better and still do the training and the nets and whatever else that comes with it,” he said.
“Because with a lot of people that’s the first thing that goes and that’s when you start slowing down and winding down. But for me, I feel like that passion is still there. So I feel fortunate for that. I feel fortunate that my body’s still functioning properly and allowing me to do the job that I love.”
Anderson has contemplated retirement, however.
“Probably (I thought about it) the last three tours of Australia,” he said, laughing.
“The biggest one is when you get an injury — the only time I’d ever think, ‘Can I be bothered going through the whole rehab process?’ A few years ago, I had quite a few calf issues. That’s when you’ve got to think about whether you want to do it or not."