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News

James Anderson on England dropping: 'I've stopped trying to make sense of it'

England's all-time leading wicket-taker says he has had no feedback after being controversially omitted for Caribbean

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
11-Apr-2022
James Anderson attends Lancashire's pre-season press day, Old Trafford, April 11, 2022

James Anderson attends Lancashire's pre-season press day  •  Getty Images

James Anderson says he has "stopped trying to make sense" of his omission from England's Test squad for their series defeat against West Indies and that he remains unclear "what the reset thing actually means" after minimal contact from the ECB.
Anderson, along with his long-term team-mate and close friend Stuart Broad, was left out of the squad that travelled to the Caribbean last month and has kept a low profile since, only addressing his non-selection briefly in appearances on his Tailenders podcast and in a BBC radio show.
Discussing his England future in-depth for the first time since being left out, Anderson said that he had not heard anything from Joe Root, Paul Collingwood or Andrew Strauss since the squad left the UK in February and said that he still failed to understand the decision.
"Absolutely not," Anderson said. "I've stopped trying to make sense of it and just put it to one side. It was completely out of my control. I've got to focus on what I can control and that is bowling as well as I possibly can.
"It feels a bit strange at the minute. I'm still centrally contracted but I've not had too much feedback from them because a lot is up in the air in terms of director of cricket and head coach. I have just been working with Glen [Chapple, Lancashire's head coach] and Sam [Byrne, physio] here, just trying to figure out what the best way forward is.
"For the last few years, I have been thinking about that [life after cricket] anyway; it is just natural to think about that when you get to a certain age," he added. "People keep asking you the question of how long you are going to go on for. I don't think that has changed much really.
"My focus has always been, if I can still perform and my body is up to the challenge then I will keep doing that. I'll have to take it season-by-season. If the England call doesn't come, I will still play here this season. I have never looked too far ahead in my career. It's always game-by-game and series-by-series and season-by-season."
Anderson's situation is complicated by the fact he is employed by the ECB as a centrally-contracted player, rather than by Lancashire, but he said that there had been no meaningful contact with any decision-makers since his omission.
"I've spoken to the head physio," he said. "There's nobody in those positions permanently so I'm presuming that is why I've not heard anything. As I said, when those positions are filled, we'll see." Asked if he hoped the new managing director would speak to him once in post, he replied: "That would be nice."
"They [England] just need a really good coach," he added. "It's not about me [but] the team needs a coach in place ASAP. It's not that far until the start of the international summer so I think the sooner the better.
"It has been a tough few years for us as a Test team, it is natural that everything comes under scrutiny. [But] I'm not too sure what the reset thing actually means"
"It's been a difficult time for everyone. After an Ashes defeat, everything comes under scrutiny. There's lots going on - people losing their jobs and stuff. I would have loved a sit-down, face-to-face, but obviously that's not always possible in these situations. I would have loved more than a five-minute phone call, but again, that's not always possible in these situations. It is what it is."
Strauss, the interim managing director and one-third of the selection panel that picked the squad along with Collingwood and James Taylor, has launched a high-performance review into red-ball cricket following England's recent winless run and has spoken in general terms about launching a "red-ball reset" which will transform the Test team's fortunes.
That phrase, coined by Root after Australia thrashed England at the MCG to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Ashes, has been used throughout the winter but remains nebulous to Anderson.
"I still don't really know what that means, really," he said. "I think after an Ashes defeat there is always a lot of focus on Test cricket. It is always the way but to be honest our Test form has been poor for two years.
"So it's not a sudden Ashes defeat and it's 'we have to do something about it'. It has been a tough few years for us as a Test team. I think it is a natural thing that everything comes under scrutiny. I'm not too sure what the reset thing actually means."
Root has publicly insisted that Anderson and Broad have a route back into the England set-up, starting with early-season wickets in the County Championship, but suggested that his side had "definitely made big improvements" in their attitude in the Caribbean after their defeat in Grenada.
The implication was that Anderson and Broad had been disruptive members of the dressing room, with both bowlers writing newspaper columns after England's Ashes defeat in Adelaide refuting Root's suggestions that they had bowled too short with the new ball.
"I don't know. I didn't hear that," Anderson said, asked about Root's comments. "I'm not sure. If that's the case then… I dunno. We'll just have to wait and see what happens in the summer.
"Not really," he added when asked if he thought he was difficult to captain. "It depends… in terms of what? I've done what I did for quite a long period of time, I feel like I know what I'm doing. I don't think I'm extremely stubborn. I will take advice and feedback from people. You'd have to ask Joe what he means by that."
Anderson has not been made available for Lancashire's first Championship fixture against Kent on Thursday but expects to play four of their six games before England's first Test of the summer, against New Zealand at Lord's on June 2.
He is revered at his county - Chapple described him as "the best bowler in the country, end of" on Monday - and does not expect any awkwardness with Saqib Mahmood, who made his Test debut in the Caribbean in Anderson's absence.
"He is my team-mate so I want him to do well," Anderson said of Mahmood. "I will help him out. I'm not going to two-foot him if we play football. It's not between me and Saqib for an England place. I don't see it that way; we are different bowlers.
"I feel good. I had a bit of time off and then got back into training. I've been in the gym quite a lot. My bowling has been limited outside so I am just trying to build that up as much as I can ahead of the start of the season.
"That first Test is in our minds. Being centrally contracted, that is how we should be thinking. It is trying to find a balance of playing enough but not being overworked before that first Test. If I think of how I build up to a Test series, I want to be in as good form as possible going into that series.
"The best way of doing that is performing for Lancashire, trying to win games of cricket. That's been my mindset forever really: performing as well as I possibly can here and hopefully those performances will lead to a call-up and if not then at least we will get off to a good start to the season."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98