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James Anderson is still going strong at the age of 35 after becoming the latest member of Test cricket’s exclusive 500-wicket club. But the leader of England’s attack has admitted he would love to go into coaching when he does finally call time on his career.
When news emerged earlier this summer that Ottis Gibson was going to leave his post as England’s fast-bowling coach to take over South Africa, Anderson’s name came into the frame as a potential replacement as a player coach.
It soon became clear that was the result of a flippant remark the Lancastrian had made in the dressing-room during the Old Trafford Test against South Africa.
“My hat’s never been in the ring,” admitted Anderson, who last week returned to the top of the Test bowling rankings after his career-best haul at Lord’s. “It was a tongue-in-cheek remark. I see part of my role as a senior bowler in the side as helping other guys out – it was a throw away comment. It wasn’t serious.”
England’s record wicket-taker, though, is serious about getting into coaching when he does eventually retire, saying: “In the future, I would definitely consider going into coaching because I love talking about the game love trying to pass on information to younger guys coming in and helping them if I can.”
For now, England are searching for a replacement for Gibson ahead of this winter’s Ashes series in Australia.
Coach Trevor Bayliss indicated there may not be a full-time appointment until next summer, with a temporary consultant likely to be brought in this winter.
Former New Zealand quick Shane Bond and any number of Australians have been linked with that temporary vacancy.
Chris Silverwood, who is set to join England for part of the upcoming one-day series with West Indies in between his commitments as Essex coach, remains the number one contender to fill the position in the long term after his impressive work with the Lions.
But what kind of coach would Anderson like to see appointed?
“I like someone obviously who has some technical knowledge but you should be fairly clear on your action by the time you are picked for England and it’s more important about getting your mindset right playing five days of cricket and setting your game up to do that.
“But for me I think you want the technical coaches lower down in age-group cricket and with the Lions. That’s the way it should be.”
So, an appointment for those England bowlers who are yet to fully stamp their mark on the international stage?
“Definitely,” says Anderson. “It is important for the next generation – me and Stuart [Broad] could probably finish off our careers without a bowling coach. But it is very important it is for the guys coming through and it is important it is someone who can prepare them for playing Test cricket.”
Having become only the sixth bowler to claim 500 Test wickets, it is hard to see too many others, except maybe Broad, joining Anderson in that club in the future given the temptation for players now to specialise in T20 cricket.
The new bumper Indian Premier League TV deal means there will be even more money in the shortest format now and Anderson says:
“It makes sense why guys would want to do it [specialise in T20]. If you look at it logically, why would you put yourself through five days of hard work?
“But I like to think that, certainly in county cricket, the majority of players’ ambition is to play Test cricket.”