Sri Lanka v England: James Anderson says he feels ‘absolutely fantastic’ ahead of tour

James Anderson dismissed then-Pakistan captain Azhar Ali to claim his 600th Test wicket in August
Venue: Galle International Stadium. Dates: 14-18 January.
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

James Anderson says he feels “absolutely fantastic” and in better shape than for a number of years heading into England’s two-Test series against Sri Lanka.

The 38-year-old pace bowler missed the 2019 Ashes in England through injury, and another four Tests last winter, but recovered to take 16 wickets in five Tests against West Indies and Pakistan during the English summer.

“I’m in as good shape as I have been in my 30s – if not better,” said Anderson. “I feel absolutely fantastic.”

England begin their winter Test programme against Sri Lanka next week before a four-Test series in India.

India then tour England this summer before the year culminates in an Ashes tour of Australia.

“I wouldn’t say it’s (Ashes) burning brightly in my mind at the minute,” said Anderson, who became the first fast bowler to take 600 Tests wickets in August.

“For me the focus is right now.

“We’ve had quite a long time off so that helps as well – I’ve been getting stronger in the gym and keeping fit.”

Anderson is one of six quick bowlers in England’s 16-man squad for the tour of Sri Lanka that starts in Galle on 14 January.

Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes have been left at home, as part of a wider rotation plan ahead of a packed 2021 calendar, but Anderson thinks England’s depth of pace bowlers is “great”.

“We’ve seen from every team that has been successful in Australia and away from home in particular, it’s important to have a good squad of bowlers, where anyone can slot in and do a good job for the team,” he said.

“There will be injuries along the way, and rotation, so we need a big group of bowlers.

“That’s what we’ve got, and we’ve got quality in there as well which is really exciting.”

Anderson has taken 37 more Test wickets than any other pace bowler in history, and many expected him to receive recognition in the New Year’s honours list for his latest landmark during the summer.

A report in the Timesexternal-link over the weekend suggested the Burnley-born bowler did not receive an knighthood due to concerns around sledging during the Ashes tour later this year.

“I did see that. I thought it was a pretty unusual story. I’ve not heard anything like that,” said Anderson.

“I’m sure it won’t stop them sledging me anyway, to be honest.

“I pretty much get a big barrage when I go there anyway. I’m looking forward to that with or without that.”

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