James Anderson is relishing the opportunity to have a prolonged spell playing for Lancashire at the start of the 2019 season.
Anderson’s international success and longevity has meant that his outings for his county have been somewhat limited over the years, since breaking through at the club as a teenager.
But with the international summer dominated by the World Cup before the Ashes in August, it gives the 36-year-old an opportunity to play a run of county matches.
It is a chance Anderson is looking forward to and he is glad for the opportunity to give something back to the club which has supported him over the years.
“I owe a lot to Lancashire and what they’ve helped me with over the years – they helped me get to where I’ve got to,” Anderson said at the club’s media day.
“I can’t wait, I’ve had a good amount of time off since that last Test match so it’s exciting to actually have a bit of a stint here and give a bit back.
“So it’s nice to have a good stint and hopefully get us off to a good start in the Championship.”
The schedule this year means that Lancashire play just the one County Championship match before playing the entirety of the Royal London One-Day Cup group stage, followed by a block of Championship fixtures from mid-May to mid-July.
Anderson has not played white-ball cricket at international level for a number of years and so is not part of the World Cup plans, meaning he is available for a large chunk of Lancashire’s season – including maybe the odd 50-over match.
“It’s a bit of an odd one having that one game and then I think after the eight Royal London games we have pretty much nine back-to-back Championship games,” Anderson said. “So it’s odd in that respect but it would be nice to get off to a decent start.
“I wasn’t planning it but currently the two oldest bowlers are the only fit ones in the team so I might have to play the odd 50-over game. I think at the minute I might play two or three out of the eight because I have to keep bowling anyway to keep ticking over so I don’t mind playing the odd one.
“I could resurrect my 50-over career and get in that World Cup squad – who knows!
“No, I’m too old for the white-ball stuff. The way they (England) have improved over the last four years since the last World Cup has been astronomical. I’ve enjoyed sitting back and watching it. It’s a thankless task as a bowler at times. I’ll leave it to them.
“It has been a while, but I love playing white-ball cricket. For me it’s a chance to experiment and also keep your fingers crossed you don’t get smacked out of the ground too many times.
“I think it’s quite hard to map it (managing the workload) out because you never know what is going to happen in terms of weather or shortened games.
“It’s hard to plan in that respect, we will just manage it as the games come along. I think the aim is to play around seven of the ten Championship games before the Ashes, but I don’t know which ones.”
At 36, Anderson continues to be the spearhead of England’s Test bowling attack and will be the key man with the ball against Australia in the Ashes.
Despite the international retirement of long-term team-mate Alastair Cook last year, Anderson has no plans to join him just yet – but has not ruled out joining Cook in playing on for his county.
“I think what Alastair has put his body through compared to what I’ve put my body through doesn’t really compare! He can get another three years, opening the batting doesn’t take much out of you!” Anderson joked.
“I’ve no plans to (retire). I still feel fit enough to play. As long as I’m fit to play and I’m still taking wickets then I will keep playing. I have bills to pay, two young girls who are starting to spend money so I’ve got to sort them out.
“It’s hard to say, I don’t know when it will be. If I retire from international cricket this year and I feel like I’ve got another couple of years in me then I would definitely keep playing for Lancashire.”