England pace bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who have been playing alternate Test matches in recent times and have a combined tally of 1,140 Test wickets, may be pressed into attack together for all five Tests against India as the hosts are missing Jofra Archer and all-rounder Ben Stokes.
A run of five Tests in six weeks against India may not be ideal for 39-year-old Anderson, a veteran of 162 Tests. But he is geared up.
Anderson (617 wickets), who is just three wickets short of surpassing Anil Kumble (619) to become the third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket history, behind Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Shane Warne (708), says he is planning to play all five Tests.
Anderson said he is enjoying the challenge of playing against a young generation that is fearless.
“I feel like I am bowling as well as ever. I feel like great physically, I am looking at this series against India first. We will look at it [Ashes beginning in December] once we are past this,” said Anderson in a media interaction when asked if this series is going to be his last hurrah.
“I want to play five Tests, Stuart Broad wants to play five as well. All other bowlers will want to play every Test match. All we can do is try and bowl well enough and be fit enough to be selected,” he added.
Anderson had a quiet series against New Zealand as he managed just three wickets across two Test matches but he will fancy bowling against a team that he has troubled a lot. He has picked 84 wickets in 17 home Tests against India. Importantly, he has troubled two of India’s best ever — Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.
For a player, who is into his 19th year of Test cricket, bowling to different generations of batsmen has been a challenge.
“It is something that I feel fortunate to have done and it has been a real experience, playing against different generations of batters,” Anderson said of his 162-Test career.
“I think [in] IPL generation of players, you can definitely see a difference. A more fearless approach, [they are] not scared of playing any shot in any format. Use Rishabh Pant as an example, reverse sweeping me in the last tour of India with a new ball. You never see Sourav Ganguly do that,” he said.
Anderson said it is tough to single out a batsman in the Indian line-up.
“Kohli is obviously an important wicket since he is the captain and has a positive influence on the team. Pujara is someone who can stay at the crease for long time and holds things together. So he is an important wicket,” added Anderson.
“But if you look through the whole squad, it’s very difficult to single one batsman out. We have got to make a plan for everyone and every wicket is important,” the right-arm pacer said.
Anderson also said that practice and preparation have not been normal.
“It has not been normal practice but that has been the nature unfortunately. We have to manage as best as we can at this time of the year.
“For me this summer has been quite stop start. I would like to get into the thing in five-match series. I always think it is really exciting time starting a series like this. Five Tests in six weeks can be quite a lot. But I get the impression from the dressing room that we are keen to get going,” he said