England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker James Anderson may be 36, but coach Trevor Bayliss believes he’s still got several years of international cricket left in him.
Swing bowler Anderson made the most of helpful conditions with a match haul of nine for 43 as England overwhelmed India by an innings and 159 runs in the second Test at Lord’s on Sunday.
In the process, he became the first bowler to take 100 Test wickets at Lord’s and took his career tally to 553 — just 10 shy of Australia great Glenn McGrath’s record of 563 for the most taken by any pace bowler in Test cricket.
Anderson is also currently top of the International Cricket Council’s Test bowling rankings.
“I don’t think there’s any age — he keeps surprising everyone,” said Bayliss.
“As long as he keeps his body fit there’s no reason why he can’t go on for three or four years,” he added of Anderson, who has been managing a shoulder injury.
“A lot of other bowlers do start to drop off mid-30s or so. It’s only the very, very best that are able to keep it going.
“I think he’s showing that he is the very, very best.”
Anderson has an even better record at Trent Bridge, where the third Test starts on Saturday with England looking for another win that would give them an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
“He’s not just good when the conditions suit him, but in these conditions he’s the best in the world,” Bayliss said.
“It’s a test for any batsman in the world to try to face him in these conditions.”
Even India captain Virat Kohli, who made 200 runs off his own bat including a superb century in England’s narrow 31-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston, struggled at Lord’s.
Bayliss said adjusting to the local environment was a problem for all touring teams.
“When the ball is swinging around they (India) have some difficulties, as when it’s spinning and we go to the subcontinent,” the Australian explained.
“They have some extremely good players, so our job is to try and stay on top.”
England were without Ben Stokes at Lord’s because of his ongoing trial for affray.
But fellow pace-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes turned in a man-of-the-match display in his absence, returning from injury to score a maiden Test century and take four wickets as well.
His runs, mainly made during a sixth-wicket stand of 189 with Jonny Bairstow, helped England recover from 131 for five to 396 for seven declared.
“He has done a lot of hard yards, not just with the ball but with the bat over the last few years too,” Bayliss said of Woakes.
“He’s a lovely bloke, and one of those guys who everyone genuinely wants to do well, so to see him go out there and do so well when we thought we were in a bit of trouble, to go and play the way he did with Jonny, was fantastic.”
England named an unchanged squad on Monday, with Stokes again omitted, although the selectors said they would assess his position at the end of the trial.
Bayliss, speaking before the squad announcement, said England’s victory at Lord’s proved they were not being distracted by the case.
“The guys are able to put anything off-field out of their mind and concentrate on what they’re doing, and this was the perfect example,” he said.
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