Jimmy Anderson is still hurting from his England snub and admits he still can’t understand the decision to leave him out of the Test series against the West Indies.
The Lancashire seamer, and fellow opening bowler Stuart Broad, were both controversially left out of the squad as part of a ‘red ball’ reset following the shocking Ashes defeat in Australia over the winter.
Two months on, the decision is still raw for Anderson – England’s leading Test wicket-taker – and is just as baffling to the 39-year-old as when interim managing director Andrew Strauss broke the news to him in a five-minute phone call in February.
When asked by Manchester Evening News Sport if he now understood the decision, Anderson, who is preparing for the start of the new County Championship campaign with Lancashire, replied, “Absolutely not. Something like this, for me, it’s quite a big deal because it came out of the blue a little bit.
“I still feel like I’m bowling well. I was in the top 10 of the world rankings so I feel like I’m doing a good job for the team.
“I feel like I’ve got a lot to offer, not just on the field but off it. I’ve really enjoyed working with the other bowlers that are coming through.
It’s been a difficult time for everyone. After an Ashes defeat everything comes under scrutiny.
There are lots going on, people losing their jobs and stuff.
“I would have loved a sit-down, face-to-face, but obviously that’s not always possible in these situations. I would have loved more than a five-minute phone call, but again, that’s not always possible in these situations. It is what it is.
“I’ve stopped trying to make sense of it and just put it to one side. It was completely out of my control. I’ve got to focus on what I can control and that is bowling as well as I possibly can.
“Firstly that is here with Lancashire in these next two months. I will try and take as many wickets as I possibly can and see what happens from there.
“Having a good two months with Lancashire is going to be exciting for me.”
Anderson revealed he has had no communication with anyone at the ECB since he was dropped, explaining: “It’s difficult because there is no one in those positions yet, there is an interim director of cricket and interim head coach. With stuff up in the air like that, I would expect to hear something once those positions are filled.”
Anderson will sit out Lancashire’s opening game of the season at Kent which starts on Thursday as he manages his workload with a view to being at his best when the first Test of the summer against New Zealand starts on June 2. He is set to play four of the county’s six Championship games between now and then.
Having taken 640 Test wickets – more than any other English bowler in history – he certainly has nothing to prove. But Anderson is approaching the new season knowing performances will be key to him winning back his Test place.
He said, “That first Test is in our minds. Being centrally contracted is how we should be thinking. It is trying to find a balance of playing enough but not being overworked before that first Test.
“I want to be in as good form as possible going into that series. For me, the best way of doing that is performing for Lancashire, trying to win games of cricket. That’s been my mindset forever really.
“Performing as well as I possibly can here and hopefully those performances will lead to a call-up and, if not, then at least we will get off to a good start to the season.”
But what if England don’t come calling this summer? Anderson admits he has been thinking about life away from the international stage for a little while before he was dropped.
“It is just natural to think about that when you get to a certain age,” he said. “People keep asking you the question of how long you are going to go on for. I don’t think that has changed much really.
“My focus has always been, if I can still perform and my body is up to the challenge then I will keep doing that.
“I think if what had happened in the last couple of months had affected me, I wouldn’t have enjoyed coming and doing the gym sessions with the lads and putting in the yards there and doing the minutes, but I still love doing that so I keep going.
“If the England call doesn’t come, I will still play here at Lancashire this season. I have never looked too far ahead in my career. It’s always game-by-game and series-by-series and season-by-season. I’ll have to take it season by season.”
Courtesy: Manchester Evening News