Jimmy Anderson confirms England farewell as next Ashes ‘felt like a stretch’

<span>Jimmy Anderson is bringing down the curtain on his England career.</span><span>Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian</span>
Jimmy Anderson is bringing down the curtain on his England career.Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Jimmy Anderson said playing in the 2025-26 Ashes felt “like a stretch” after he announced that the first Test against West Indies at Lord’s in July will mark his England farewell.

The Guardian revealed on Friday that this summer would be Anderson’s last as a Test cricketer after the 41-year-old held talks with the England head coach, Brendon McCullum, who wants to build an attack for the long haul. Anderson confirmed his retirement in an Instagram post, stating that the series opener will be his final Test. Lord’s – where he began his Test career 21 years ago against Zimbabwe, claiming five wickets – will host the final wave goodbye from 10 July.

Speaking on the Tailenders podcast, Anderson claimed that another trip to Australia – where he began his international career in December 2002 – felt a step too far when he discussed his future with McCullum.

“It was just looking ahead, could a 43-year-old me make the Ashes in 18 months’ time? And [it] came to the decision that probably not,” said Anderson. “From my point of view it feels like a stretch at this stage in my career and from their point of view there’s 15 or so Test matches before the Ashes so it gives them time to get other guys Test matches and experience. It feels like it’s the right thing for me and the team.”

“I feel good about [the decision]. I’ve had an amazing career and the stuff around [my] retirement’s been hanging around for years now … since I turned 30 and grown even more since I turned 40. I just feel really lucky I’ve managed to get to this age and still be playing at a very high level.”

Anderson, stationed on 700 Test wickets, added that he may still have a backroom role with England this summer after his Lord’s farewell, with discussions “ongoing” between him, McCullum, Ben Stokes and the England men’s managing director, Rob Key.

He also remains undecided over his future playing county cricket. “There are games at the end of the season I’m not ruling out at this moment,” added Anderson. “But that’s a conversation I’ve got to have with Lancashire and see what they want to do. I’m not 100% set on what I’m going to do next. [I have to] see if I’ve got the desire and willingness to do that as well.”

Anderson’s first international captain, Nasser Hussain, said Lord’s would be the ideal venue for his swansong. “It’s fitting he should end at Lord’s,” Hussain told Sky Sports. “He’s been a magnificent cricketer with everything he’s done on and off the field; his fitness, his form, his skill, his will to come back from adversity.

“It will be a very emotional week at Lord’s,” Hussain added, “but I think it’s a week he deserves, firstly because he deserves to be in that side. He’s arguably our greatest ever cricketer, he deserves that week.”

700 Wickets taken by Anderson, behind only Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne

187 Tests played, behind only Sachin Tendulkar. Nobody else has played more than 168.

220 Test wickets taken since his 35th birthday, behind only Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath.

39,877 Balls bowled in Test cricket, fourth highest behind Muralitharan, Anil Kumble and Warne. Next highest seamer/quick is Stuart Broad with 33,698.

22.54 Anderson’s bowling average in the last 10  years, during which time he has played 95 Tests and taken 357 wickets. Rob Smyth

Anderson has not played for Lancashire so far this season, including in their current fixture with Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, where visiting supporters reacted to the news of his impending retirement. “I think the time is right for him to go,” said Dave Melling, 70.

“However fit he is, you’ve got to look towards the future. I think he’s still got a lot to offer [to Lancashire]. He’s supremely fit and to play in games like this could be the difference between winning and losing or having the difference between a good season and a bad season because he’s got so much experience and skill. The county game would be poorer without him.”

Charlie Jones, 20, said: “I’m still trying to process it. He made his Test debut the year I was born. I haven’t known an England or Lancashire side without Jimmy Anderson, so it’ll definitely feel strange when he’s retired.”

The current fixture has featured Saqib Mahmood as he makes his first championship appearance in a year, the 27-year-old England and Lancashire quick having struggled with back stress fractures since his Test bow in 2022. “That’ll do Saqib a world of good,” said Melling as the whippy right-armer found the outside edge of Ben Slater. Anderson moves on, as does the game.