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James Anderson 'at peace' with retirement despite bowling 'as well as ever'

England's leading Test wicket-taker has accepted management decision to move him on

James Anderson says he is "at peace" with his impending retirement from Test cricket, despite admitting that he didn't have much say in the decision and feeling that he is "still bowling as well as I ever have".
Anderson will play his 188th and final Test against West Indies at Lord's this week, having been told by the England management at the start of the season that they were planning to move on. He will bow out as the most-prolific fast bowler in Test history, having taken his 700th wicket, at the age of 41, on the tour of India in March.
His England career will come to end at the same ground where he took a five-wicket haul on Test debut 21 years ago, and Anderson admitted that it would be an emotional few days.
"I'm trying not to think too much about the game itself yet, or certainly how I'd feel about it," he said. "I'm trying to be as focused as I can. The big thing for me this week is wanting to play well, bowl well and get a win. That's what I'm trying to focus on really. I'm sure the emotions during the week will change, but right now that's what I'm trying to focus on to stop myself crying.
"It's been a strange couple of months. I feel pretty happy with where things are now and pretty excited for the week as well. I think having quite a few friends and family come down for the week, which is good. I've had a lot of people who've stopped me in the street or met out and about saying that they're coming to the game. I'm just excited for the week.
Asked whether he was calling it a day too soon, after claiming 7 for 35 in his first appearance of the season for Lancashire last week, he said: "It's difficult to say. I've not really got a choice.
"It was important for me that I try and put in some good performances to finish with. I loved being out on the field with Lancashire last week. I've always loved playing for Lancashire. I've not played a huge amount for them over the last 20 years because of England duties. But every time I've had a chance to go back to play for them, I've tried to give it my all and that's exactly what I did last week. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the win because of the north-west weather."
On whether he could have stayed fit enough to play in the 2025-26 Ashes, which formed part of England's decision-making, Anderson said it was "impossible to say".
"It's always difficult to answer that sort of question," he said. "You never know what's going to happen. It's 18 months away. It's a long time. Throughout my whole career, I've never really focused on too far ahead. I've always tried to take it series by series and focus on those little goals. as my career has gone on.
"It's really impossible to say. I probably thought before the last away Ashes that I wouldn't make [it] 18 months before that because of the way the game is and the age I was getting to. I can completely understand the decision and the way the team and management want to go. As I've said, the last couple of months I've made peace with that and I'm excited to see what the future holds."
He added: "Coming off the back of seven-for last week, obviously I feel like I'm still bowling as well as I ever have. I knew it had to end at some point, whether it's now or a year or two years. The fact that it's now is just something that I've got to deal with and accept."
Anderson will stay on in the England dressing room this summer as a team mentor and is expected to go into coaching, although he has yet to make a decision on whether he will continue playing for Lancashire.
He confirmed that he had not been thinking about retirement before being invited to a meeting with the "three big dogs" - England men's managing director, Rob Key, Test coach, Brendon McCullum, and Test captain, Ben Stokes - earlier in the year, but said he was comfortable with how it had been handled.
"I hadn't really thought about it just because as I said I felt as fit as I ever have been in India," Anderson said. "I thought that playing this summer would be achievable. Obviously as a senior bowler you don't play every Test anyway, you get rested and stuff like that. I thought that was achievable and then think about stuff after that. That's the way I've always approached it.
"I wouldn't say it was a surprise because when the three big dogs invited to a hotel in Manchester for a chat I didn't think it was just a normal appraisal. I had a suspicion that that was going to be the case. I think they were surprised at how calm I was when I reacted. I think I was probably surprised at my reaction. I wasn't overly emotional about it or angry about it or anything.
"I saw their point of view and appreciated them taking the time out to lay it out for me, the reasoning and stuff like that. Since then I've come to terms with it and made peace with that decision. Just looking forward to one more game and then see what's ahead."