James Anderson could stay on as England coach after confirming retirement

James Anderson confirms Test retirement: 'Time is right to step aside'
Having taken 700 Test wickets in a record-breaking 22-year international career, James Anderson has called time - Action Images/Jason Cairnduff

James Anderson has confirmed that the first Test of the summer will be his last, but the great fast bowler is set to remain with the England squad as part of the backroom staff.

Anderson will retire a few weeks before his 42nd birthday against West Indies at Lord’s in July having played a record 188 matches and taken 700 Test wickets, a record for a fast bowler.

The Lancastrian received a tap on the shoulder from England management looking to the future and he confirmed in a statement released on Saturday that retirement was imminent.

“It’s been an incredible 20 years representing my country, playing the game I’ve loved since I was a kid,” Anderson said. “I’m going to miss walking out for England so much. But I know the time is right to step aside and let others realise their dreams like I got to, because there is no greater feeling.”

Anderson says he is yet to discuss with Lancashire whether he will play on, either for the remainder of this season or next, but said he is speaking with the management about remaining part of the Test setup as a “mentor” for the remainder of this summer and perhaps beyond. England have not had a bowling coach since McCullum took over, with Anderson effectively filling the role for his younger colleagues. He will tune up for his final Test by playing for Lancashire against Nottinghamshire at Southport in late June.

“I feel excited about what the future might hold, whether that’s potentially sticking around with the team this summer in a different capacity would be nice possibly,” he said. “We have chatted about it, the chats are ongoing. I will keep talking to Stokesy, Baz, Rob Key about what happens after that Test match.

“I have not decided [whether to play on]. There are games at the end of the season that I am not ruling out. That is a conversation I need to have with Lancashire and see what they want to do.

“It is part of the thought process. I am not 100 per cent set on what I will do next. That will be a conversation further down the line to see what they want to do. To see if I have actually got the desire and willingness to do that. That will be later in the year.”

Anderson met Brendon McCullum, the England head coach, and Rob Key, the managing director of cricket, at a hotel in Manchester last month to discuss his future. It was agreed that this would be Anderson’s last summer, and he decided to bow out early at Lord’s, where he made his Test debut in 2003, rather than his home ground of Old Trafford or the Kia Oval, where his great friends Alastair Cook (in 2018) and Stuart Broad (last summer) retired.

After the news broke on Friday, Anderson, who has been training with Lancashire at Trent Bridge this week, withdrew from commentary duties with the BBC for England women’s T20 international at Edgbaston today. He did, however, appear on his Tailenders podcast to explain the situation.

“Baz came over from New Zealand, we have appraisals every six months,” he said. “My future is something that has been chatted about, I feel like I’ve been talking about it for 10 years. Every coach we’ve had has asked how long I’m going to play for! It was looking ahead, could a 43-year-old me make the Ashes in 18 months’ time? We came to the conclusion that probably not. It feels like a stretch at this stage of my career. From their point of view they have 15 or so Test matches before the Ashes, so it gives them time to give guys experience before that Ashes series. We came to the decision that I’ll play one more Test match.

“I feel good about it. I’ve had an amazing career. Stuff around retirement has been hanging around for years now, since I turned 30 I reckon, and grown even more since I turned 40. I feel really lucky that I’ve managed to get to this age and still be playing at a really high level. I get one more Test match and am able to go out at Lord’s, where it started in 2003.

“I’d rather go out still bowling well rather than be in decline or slowing down. Want to go out and have people remember you for being the bowler you’ve been.”

He praised the England management, who he described as “sweet, kind, helpful - I couldn’t ask for any more.”

England are looking to build an attack to beat India at home in 2025 and Australia away that winter, by which point Anderson will be 43. They have contracted a group of younger fast bowlers such as Josh Tongue, Gus Atkinson, Matthew Potts and Brydon Carse, whereas Anderson was given just a one-year deal.

Anderson needs nine wickets in his final Test to overtake the great Australian spinner Shane Warne and end up with the second most in history behind Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan.