James Anderson: England captain Ben Stokes says fast bowler’s exit motivated by focus on regaining Ashes in Australia | Cricket News

England captain Ben Stokes says the decision to move on from fast bowler James Anderson is motivated by the aim of being in the best possible position to win back the Ashes from Australia next winter.

Anderson, 41, the leading wicket-taker among fast bowlers in Test history with 700 dismissals in 187 games, is preparing for the start of his final international match, as England take on West Indies at Lord’s from Wednesday.

Stokes, along with England head coach Brendon McCullum and director of cricket Rob Key, decided that they want to use this summer’s home fixtures to prepare their younger bowlers for their next tour of Australia, which will begin in November 2025.

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England’s all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson says his preparations remain the same ahead of what will be his final Test match

“You look at how long it’s been since we’ve played a Test match, I think it’s been five months,” Stokes said. “When you have a lot of time off, you’ve got a lot of time to think about how you can take the team forward.

“I’ve been captain now for two years, so for me it’s about progressing this team. We’ve been a team, especially the first two years, we’ve been very focused on the here and now of what we need to do, whereas two years is a long time for something to be fine then. But for me, I want to be able to implement stuff to push this team as far as they can go, not only as a team collective but also as individuals.

“And you look at where we’ve got to go in 18 months’ time, to Australia. We want to win that urn back.

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James Anderson says he has ‘made peace’ with his England retirement as he discusses whether he could have made the next Ashes tour in 2025-26

“We’ve got an incredibly talented and exciting group of bowlers coming through at the moment, so giving them the experience of playing international cricket, getting Test matches under their belt, will put us in a much stronger position to hopefully go out to Australia and win the Ashes.”

Surrey quick Gus Atkinson will make his Test debut at Lord’s, while Dillon Pennington and Matthew Potts will be in contention to replace Anderson at Trent Bridge next week when the three-match series continues.

Stokes reveals Anderson apology for seven-wicket haul

Anderson warmed up for his swansong with a seven-wicket haul for Lancashire against Nottinghamshire in the County Championship, which Stokes admitted brought some unwanted attention to the selectors’ decision.

“There was no doubt that Jimmy was going to do well (for Lancashire),” Stokes said.

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Sky Sports News’ James Cole reports on how James Anderson is preparing to make his bow from Test cricket

“I’m good mates with Jimmy. I did text him saying, ‘did you really have to go and do that?’ His reply was, ‘sorry mate’.”

Stokes also revealed that Anderson is “very excited” at the prospect of remaining with the England as part of the Test squad’s backroom staff following his retirement.

“He’s an amazing bowler. There’s no doubt that he could still go out there and play Test cricket, because he is good enough. But when we spoke with Jimmy, we laid it out with him and gave him reasons and he totally understood it.

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Ian Bishop reflects on James Anderson’s career, skillset and fitness ahead of the England seamer’s final Test match

“It’s obviously a very hard thing for someone like Jimmy to have to listen to. But as well, I think the role in which we see him falling into after this week, about still being in the dressing room and helping all of our bowlers, he’s very, very excited by as well.

“This week will all be about Jimmy, and rightly so, but I can tell you his main focus is about going out there, taking wickets and trying to win this game for England as much as he can. I’m sure when we’re done here this week, that’s when everything else will take over, but he’s desperate to go out there and still put in a winning performance for England.”

Watch the first Test between England and West Indies live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10am on Wednesday (11am first ball).

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