James Anderson has admitted he had to be talked out of retirement by his wife after a series of injury setbacks.
Anderson managed just four overs in the 2019 Ashes after a recurrence of a calf injury ruled him out in the opening moments of the first Test. In the aftermath, he concedes he was struggling with the prospect of more rehabilitation work and it required the intervention of his wife, Daniella, to persuade him to continue.
He has claimed 42 more Test wickets at a cost of 23.00 since then, becoming the only seamer in Test history to reach the milestone of 600 wickets.
“A big reason I am still playing cricket is my wife,” Anderson said ahead of the first LV= Insurance Test against India at Trent Bridge. “She’s been really supportive.
“When I pulled my calf in the first Ashes Test, it was the second or third time I had pulled my calf and I was really considering whether I wanted to go through the rehab again. She basically took us away on holiday and told me to stop being silly. She told me to carry on.
“Of course there have been difficult moments. I think everyone goes through it playing professional sport, whether you are out of form, have a loss of confidence or if it’s injuries. There are all sorts of things you have to deal with. For me it’s about having a good support network: friends and family that you can rely on and lean on.
“My wife has been really supportive. She wants me to keep playing; she encourages me to keep playing. She’s quite happy for me not to be around the house I think.”
Despite his age – he celebrated his 39th birthday a few days ago – Anderson dismissed any suggestion that the next 10 Tests (five against India and five against Australia) could prove the finale of his career.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I feel like I’m bowling as well as ever. I feel great physically. I’m just looking forward to this series against India.
“We’ll look at everything else once we’re past this. That’s something I’ve done really well throughout my career. But right now I’m bowling as well as I ever have and I’m really looking forward to this series.”
Anderson has an excellent record at Trent Bridge. In 10 Tests at the ground, he has claimed 64 wickets at an average of 19.62 apiece with seven five-wicket hauls. He also made his highest score – 81 – here against India in 2014. While that Test may be best remembered for rumours of an altercation between Anderson and Ravi Jadeja as the players made their way to the dressing rooms after a session, it remains a ground upon which he has happy memories.
“I do like playing here,” Anderson said. “I feel at home here. It is such a friendly place to play. The stewards and staff are incredibly friendly. It’s just somewhere I feel really comfortable.
“In years gone by, swing has played a big part here. It’s a ground where you look up [at the atmospheric conditions] not down at the pitch. If there’s cloud cover or if it’s humid, it’s generally a good place to bowl. If there’s a bit of grass on the wicket it will carry to the keeper and slips.”
While conceding the India battling line-up is “riddled with talent”, Anderson insists he is relishing the prospect of testing himself against them and Virat Kohli, in particular.
“I’m definitely excited to play against him again,” Anderson said. “You always want to challenge yourself against the best in the world and he’s certainly that. We know how big a player he is for them both as a batsman and as captain, he has a huge influence on that team. So we know he’s a big wicket and to be honest I don’t care if I get him out. As long as somebody gets him out that’s the main thing. He’s an important wicket.
“But I think challenging yourself against the best in the world is really exciting and their top six is riddled with talent. It’s going to be a big challenge for us seam bowlers.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.