James Anderson to end 22-year England career this summer after Brendon McCullum talks

Brendon McCullum and James Anderson

James Anderson’s legendary, record-breaking 22-year international career will end this summer after the bowler held face-to-face talks with the England head coach Brendon McCullum.

Anderson, who turns 42 in July, made his international debut in 2002 and his Test bow the following summer.

In his most recent Test, an England record 187th, he became the first fast bowler and just the third player to reach 700 Test wickets, in Dharamsala at the end of the 4-1 defeat by India in March.

Only Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Australia’s Shane Warne (708) stand ahead of him in the all-time Test wicket-taking list and only India’s Sachin Tendulkar (200) has played more Tests.

Whether Anderson adds to those remarkable tallies remains unclear, but he appears likely to be handed at least one more Test across the summer.

According to the Guardian, the England head coach McCullum recently made a swift visit to the UK from his native New Zealand and informed Anderson that England would be looking to the future with their pace attack, and that this summer would be his Test swansong.

Anderson is yet to officially confirm or deny the story, but he is due to appear on the BBC’s coverage of England women’s first international of the summer, a T20 against Pakistan on Sunday.

Anderson was always likely to receive a tap on the shoulder from McCullum, Test captain Ben Stokes or the managing director Rob Key. Anderson has been an extraordinarily resilient cricketer, remaining fit and improving with age.

Before this management took over, he and his great partner Stuart Broad were dropped for a tour of the West Indies as England looked to the future. But he bounced back to pick up another 60 wickets in 18 Tests at an average of 25.9.

Even at the end of the India tour, on which he put a difficult 2023 Ashes series (when he managed just five scalps in four Tests) behind him to take 10 wickets bowling with great control, Anderson was still optimistic about the future, saying he was in his “best shape” of his career. Ahead of the tour, he had remodelled his run-up in order to add pace.

James Anderson of England leaves the field after claiming his 700th test wicket during day three of the 5th Test against India in Dharamsala
Anderson leaves the field after claiming his 700th Test wicket in Dharamsala in March - Getty Images/Gareth Copley

‌McCullum was non-committal at the end of that tour, too.

‌“I don’t know, honestly,” he said, when asked then about Anderson. “Who knows where the end line for him is but for now, just enjoy having Jimmy around and make sure we utilise that experience he’s got. He’s a great resource for the other guys within the unit.”

‌This England regime have tended not to look too far ahead, preferring to take each match as it comes. But they are looking to the future this summer, as they try to “refine” their gallivanting Bazball style of play at what is likely to be the halfway stage of the Stokes-McCullum premiership. Anderson was always unlikely to make it to Australia for a sixth Ashes tour next winter, and England are desperate to build a battery of fast bowlers for that trip.

‌While Anderson was handed just a one-year deal on reduced terms last winter, the likes of Gus Atkinson, Matt Potts, Brydon Carse and Josh Tongue were given multi-year deals. England will hope that Ollie Robinson is through a slump in focus and can lead the attack in a post-Anderson world, but they also have the extreme skill of Chris Woakes at home, as well as the pacey but fragile duo of Mark Wood and Jofra Archer.

‌England have a number of appetising fixtures if Anderson chooses to bow out at a specific Test this summer. Across six Tests against West Indies and Sri Lanka, they play twice at Lord’s, where he has more wickets than any other bowler, at Trent Bridge, his favourite venue, and Old Trafford, his home ground, where he has never taken a Test five-wicket haul. The final Test of the summer is at the Kia Oval, where Broad retired last summer got a fairy-tale finish to his career at the end of the Ashes.

‌Anderson and Broad, four years his junior, were an extraordinary partnership across 15 years that coincided with some unforgettable highs in English Test history, such as the Ashes win down under in 2010/11, the ascent to the top of the rankings later that year, and the win in India in 2012. Anderson was at the heart of all of them.

‌Anderson is yet to play this season, but had planned to turn out for Lancashire in the County Championship in May or June to gear up for the start of the Test summer on July 10. He has previously stated that he would like to continue playing for Lancashire or even his club Burnley when his Test career concludes.