James Anderson retirement

England fast bowler James Anderson has opened up on his imminent retirement from Test cricket, claiming he 'does not really have a choice' when asked if he felt he could continue playing at the international level.

England are set to take on West Indies in the first Test of their home summer at Lord's starting from Wednesday, July 10. In May, Anderson had announced that this would the last match of his international career, which is over 21 years old.

News also emerged last week that the 41-year-old pacer would remain with the England squad for remaining matches of the series, in a mentoring role for England's relatively inexperienced seam attack.

Anderson: Not really got a choice to continue playing 

However, it has become widely known since the announcement of Anderson's retirement that the decision was not entirely his own. Instead, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) managing director Rob Key, England red-ball head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes reportedly had a face-to-face chat with Anderson about his future at the international level, effectively suggesting that he hang up his boots.

Anderson indicated the same when speaking to the media ahead of his final game, while emphasising his current form and ability. "I still feel as fit as I ever have, like I'm bowling as well as I ever have. I still think I could do a job," he said. "But at the same time I understand that it has to end at some point. The fact is that it now is just something I've got to deal with and accept."

He further said that whether he could continue to play or not was largely irrelevant. "It's difficult to say [whether I could continue playing]. I've not really got a choice."

Also read: Nathan Lyon 'very surprised' that England have tapped Anderson on the shoulder

While the pacer's best form has come towards the back end of his career, his last couple of series have been difficult ones.

On the recent tour of India, Anderson took 10 wickets in 4 matches at an average of 33.5 runs per wicket. Prior to that, the home Ashes series in 2023 saw him average 85.4, with just 5 wickets in 4 matches.

The question of whether these were blips against a couple of very strong sides in an otherwise stellar last decade, or genuine signs of decline, are anyone's guess.

Anderson did, however, make a magnificent return to first-class cricket last week, picking up 7-35 & 1-29 for Lancashire against Nottinghamshire to spark calls from fans and experts for him to continue playing for England. He will retire as the second-most capped player in Test history, and the highest wicket-taker among pace bowlers.

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