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James Anderson vows to take out the 'nostalgia' in event of Old Trafford recall

Veteran seamer knows he is not guaranteed a recall for what could be final home Test outing

James Anderson chats with Ben Stokes, England vs Australia, 1st Ashes Test, Edgbaston, 5th day, June 20, 2023

James Anderson claimed only three wickets across the first two Tests of the series  •  PA Photos/Getty Images

James Anderson has admitted there is no guarantee that he will play in next week's crucial fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford, even though it may be his final opportunity to play in front of his Lancashire home crowd and bowl from the end named in his honour.
Anderson, who turns 41 at the end of the month, was left out of England's thrilling three-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley last week, after struggling to make an impact during each of Australia's two victories on flat pitches at Edgbaston and Lord's in the first two Tests of the series.
He managed three wickets at 75.33 across those two matches, but admitted after the first that the Edgbaston pitch had been like "kryptonite" to his swing-bowling methods.
Nevertheless, with Ollie Robinson suffering a back spasm during the Headingley Test - and with England having named an unchanged 14-man squad for Old Trafford, in which the only alternative seamer is the relatively untested Josh Tongue, there is a clear case for Anderson's return on home soil.
Irrespective of his displays in the series so far, Anderson has been a key weapon for Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum since they took over as England's captain and coach, claiming 48 wickets at 21.22 in 12 appearances since the start of the 2022 summer.
In ten Tests at Old Trafford - where the pavilion end of the ground has been called the "James Anderson End" since 2017 - he has taken 37 wickets at 22.02, including six key scalps in England's series-levelling win against South Africa last summer.
"This is an Ashes series and there is absolutely no chance nostalgia will come into selection for the next Test," Anderson wrote in his column in the Telegraph.
"Letting Jimmy Anderson bowl at the Jimmy Anderson End because it is a nice story will not be a thought in the heads of Ben Stokes or Brendon McCullum. They will pick the strongest team to compete with Australia that particular week. I am completely happy with whatever they decide.
"I know I am not guaranteed to play the next Test and I will completely understand if they want to stick with the winning team. The selection side is out of my hands. I just make sure that I am in a good place and ready to play."
Anderson has claimed 688 wickets at 26.21 in his 181-match career, of which a remarkable 208 at 21.61 have come since he turned 35, the sort of age at which most fast bowlers are contemplating retirement. And while even Anderson acknowledges that the end of his career cannot be put off indefinitely, he's putting all such thought to the back of his mind while the Ashes are at stake.
"When you are at my stage of your career you never know when your last game at a certain ground is going to be," he wrote. "This could be my last Test at Old Trafford if I do play, who knows? I am not thinking about that.
"All I want to do is try to be involved with this team again and make an impact on the field and contribute towards an England win that would level the series. I will take the nostalgia element out of it and just focus on the cricket and having a good time on the field. I feel good mentally and physically better after the break."
Despite his overall career figures, Anderson's record against Australia - 115 wickets at 34.85 - remains one that he is keen to improve upon, especially seeing as he was last involved in an Ashes Test win back in 2015. To that end, he intends to keep working on his game while the rest of the squad takes a break between matches, to ensure he is ready to hit the ground running if called upon at Old Trafford.
"Looking back on the first two games of the series, I was too serious and too intense," Anderson wrote. "If I do get the nod at Old Trafford I am going to go out with a smile on my face.
"The series is now alive and it has been amazing to be a part of it and I would love to get a chance to contribute again. It is something I have done for a number of years - turn up when the team need me and put in a performance that can impact a game."