IPL a step towards England T20 side for Anderson
James Anderson has said his desire to win a recall to the England Twenty20 squad was the motivation behind his decision to enter into the IPL auction.
Anderson, a key figure in England's ascent to the top of the world Test rankings, is one of several members of the squad who will appear in the auction to be held in Bangalore* on Saturday. Ian Bell, Graeme Swann, Ravi Bopara, Matt Prior and Chris Tremlett will also be involved in the auction. Stuart Broad, Eoin Morgan and Kevin Pietersen already have IPL contracts in place.
Anderson, currently third in the ICC Test bowling rankings, said concerns over his hectic schedule had provoked him to think long and hard about whether to put his name forward. He eventually reasoned that if he were to have any chance of earning a recall to the England side that will seek to retain its World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka in September he needed to gain more experience in the format. His last T20I appearance came against South Africa in 2009.
"At the end of the day, I've not played T20 cricket for God knows how long and I want to get back into the England T20 side," Anderson said. "It was a hard thing to weigh up but that's what I went for in the end.
"Having the odd T20 stuck on to the end of a tour isn't going to prepare us for a world tournament. The more exposure guys can get to T20 cricket, the better it is in the long run."
Though Anderson joked he would be handing his phone to the umpire at square leg to ensure he was kept up to date with events at the auction, he insisted that talk of the potential big money on offer would not distract England during the third Test against Pakistan. Anderson has a reserve price of $300,000 in the auction, which will take place on the second day of the Test.
"I think we're professional enough not to talk about something like that during a Test match," Anderson said. "I don't think it's going to be an issue at all. It's something completely separate from what we're involved in at the minute and it's for individuals to talk about outside of the Test match. We won't be talking about it as a team."
Anderson also outlined England's motivation for an improved performance in the final Test of the series against Pakistan. Although Pakistan have already taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, England require at least a draw to be certain of retaining their top-ranked status. If England lose 3-0 and South Africa subsequently beat New Zealand by the same margin, South Africa would leapfrog England. South Africa would also then win the $175,000 prize money allocated by the ICC to the Test team that is top of the rankings on April 1.
"We don't want to just be one-hit wonders," Anderson said. "Becoming the No. 1 side has been our goal for a number of years. We don't want to have six months of lapping up everyone saying how good we are and then disappearing. We want to stay there as long as we possibly can and that's why we need to win the game on Friday. We also want to be in a really good position when South Africa come to England in the summer.
"Our goal was to become No.1 and, when we became No.1, we wanted to set new goals. As a team we've chatted often about wanting to become the best England team there has ever been. We've not got off to a great start doing that but the beauty of this team is we have got strong characters in the dressing-room, guys that can face up to the pressure."
*05:00 GMT, Feb 2: This story previously said the auction would be held in Mumbai. this has been corrected
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo