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James Anderson hopes Hundred encourages 'positivity' for England's Test players

Fast bowler confirms his role will be promotional-only as he saves energies for red-ball

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
James Anderson will be part of the BBC's commentary team for the Hundred  •  Gareth Copley/Getty Images

James Anderson will be part of the BBC's commentary team for the Hundred  •  Gareth Copley/Getty Images

While the rest of the country were glued to TV screens on Tuesday night, watching England's 2-0 win against Germany at Euro 2020, James Anderson was bowling in the middle with Jon Lewis and Marcus Trescothick - England's bowling and batting coaches - at Chester-le-Street following commentary duties with the BBC on the first ODI against Sri Lanka.
The timing was not ideal - "it was their idea," he sighed ruefully - but it highlighted the commitment and dedication that has served Anderson so well in prolonging his Test career: at some stage in the five-Test series against India this summer, he will overtake Anil Kumble as the third-highest Test wicket-taker of all time, and will hope to take his 1000th first-class wicket in the next two weeks, when he plays for Lancashire in the County Championship.
And Anderson expects those extra sessions will become a regular feature over the course of the next few weeks for England's Test bowlers. Having had several Championship rounds in which to build up their workloads ahead of the New Zealand series earlier this summer, England players will head into the first Test against India on August 4 on the back of two weeks playing in the Hundred, bowling a maximum of 20 balls a night, and while there are two rounds of Championship games at the start of July, the majority of the month's domestic schedule involves white-ball cricket.
"They might have to juggle their practice sessions and get a bit of red-ball practice in," Anderson said, speaking at the BBC's media launch of the Hundred, where he will work as a pundit, "because obviously there are different skills that you use for red-ball and white-ball cricket.
"Most of the bowlers that we've got in our squad are experienced and they're international players who have to balance that - one-day cricket and red-ball cricket - throughout their careers anyway, [so] I think they're pretty used to that.
"The majority of players I know are cricket badgers and want to play all forms of the game. They want to give everything a try and be the best at that. When I played white-ball cricket I wanted to be the best I possibly could in one-day cricket but I've moved away from that and really honed my skills in red-ball cricket. My hope is that there are still people growing up watching Test cricket who want to be Test cricketers and there are still people who want to be white-ball cricketers as well."
Anderson and Stuart Broad are the only two centrally-contracted players who will not take part in the Hundred in a playing capacity, and while they are loosely affiliated with Manchester Originals and Trent Rockets respectively in a promotional role, Anderson admitted that he had considered playing his first short-form game since 2014 by taking part in the competition as a player.
"I did think about whether I should actually try and get a gig as a player," he said, "but in the end I just felt it was probably for the younger guys to crack on with that. I didn't want to affect my Test availability by getting injured throwing myself around in the Hundred - it might not have been the best idea.
"I did explore it - I was interested, but I fell down on the side of prolonging my Test career. I didn't want to jeopardise that too much so I'll leave it to the young lads to throw themselves around in the field too much."
But despite those concerns for his own career, Anderson said that he does not expect the likes of Chris Woakes, Sam Curran and Ben Stokes to hold back when they play in the Hundred in an attempt to avoid injuries ahead of a gruelling schedule of five Tests against India at home and then five more away in Australia - as well as a T20 World Cup in October. He also echoed comments by Graham Thorpe, England's assistant coach, suggesting that the Test team's top-order batters would benefit from playing in the competition, which starts on July 21.
"You can get injured at any point - that's just the nature of the game," Anderson said. "I don't think people are going to be careful because of a Test series: you've got to throw yourself into it and try to play at 100% every time you get the chance. Hopefully nothing like that happens but there obviously is the chance because every time you go out on the field there is a chance of injury.
"I think there's definitely no harm in playing the Hundred and playing some white-ball cricket, having that freedom to go out there and try and hit the ball. Test cricket does have a way of trying to stifle you at times and you can get a bit uncertain about your technique or movements and things like that. All the Hundred will do is encourage positivity: positive moment of the feet, positive shots, and I think that can only be a good thing."
The Hundred will be on BBC Two, radio and online from Wednesday 21 July

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98