ENG vs WI Test series preview: England set to bid Anderson farewell as West Indies seeks to spoil his party

The series opener will be Anderson’s 188th and last Test and he will transition into England’s fast-bowling mentor.

Published : Jul 09, 2024 21:38 IST , LONDON - 3 MINS READ

Anderson warmed up for his last Test by showing his class last week in his first English County appearance for Lancashire.
Anderson warmed up for his last Test by showing his class last week in his first English County appearance for Lancashire. | Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES
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Anderson warmed up for his last Test by showing his class last week in his first English County appearance for Lancashire. | Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES

It doesn’t matter if James Anderson takes a bunch of West Indies wickets for England in the first Test at Lord’s from Wednesday.

The series opener will be Anderson’s 188th and last Test and he will transition into England’s fast-bowling mentor.

He was pensioned off by England managing director Rob Key, coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes. They met him at a Manchester hotel in April to say he wasn’t in their plans for the 2025-26 Ashes in Australia.

This was a month after Anderson returned from India, where he took 10 wickets at an average of 33.50. That series was lost 4-1 but on the last morning of the last Test in Dharamsala, Anderson became the first seamer in history to take 700 wickets.

ALSO READ | Strauss says England right to call time on Anderson’s Test career

He spoke then of being in the best shape, liking where his game was at, and being really excited for this summer, when he will turn 42 at the end of this month.

This week, he said he was surprised at how calmly he took the news from Key, McCullum and Stokes. He understood their decision, adding, “I’ve sort of made peace with that.”

Anderson warmed up for his last Test by showing his class last week in his first English County appearance for Lancashire. He took seven for 35, the best figures in the championship.

His 21-year Test career comes full circle at Lord’s, where he made his Test debut in 2003 against Zimbabwe. Lord’s witnessed Anderson’s career-best figures of seven for 42 against West Indies in 2017.

As one era ends, others could start. Surrey seamer Gus Atkinson and wicketkeeper Jamie Smith have been handed Test debuts. Both played white-ball cricket for England last year; Atkinson went to the ODI World Cup. Smith replaces Jonny Bairstow, who’s been dropped after 100 Tests.

Spinner Jack Leach has also made way for Shoaib Bashir to make his home Test debut after taking 17 wickets in India. Chris Woakes returns for his first Test since he was the player of the Ashes series last summer.

“There’ll be some decisions I’m sure people might not understand or might be frustrated by and that’s something that I’m absolutely fine with and completely understand,” Stokes said on Tuesday.

“I don’t want to say I’m stubborn, but one thing I’m very clear on is that I know that these decisions are best for the team, from my point of view. Look at where we’ve got to go in 18 months’ time, to Australia. We want to win that urn back.

”West Indies plays its first Test since the extraordinary eight-run victory over Australia in Brisbane in January, after a 10-wicket thrashing in Adelaide.

All-rounder and former captain Jason Holder was recalled along with fellow fast bowler Jayden Seales. Opening batter Mikyle Louis will become the first man from St. Kitts and Nevis to play a Test.

In the absence of the injured Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph will lead the pace attack with Seales and Shamar Joseph, whose seven for 68 scuttled the Australians in Brisbane in the second innings.

Joseph called England retiree Anderson “perfect” as a Test player to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper but “I want to rain on his parade”.

Anderson said he was trying hard not to think of his pending forced retirement.

“The big thing for me this week is wanting to play well, bowl well and get a win,” he said. “I’m sure the emotions during the week will change, but right now that’s what I’m trying to focus on to stop myself crying.”

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