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James Anderson is England’s greatest, but time is right to move on

The man who got The Godfather made – by making friends with the Mob
Published Time: 12.05.2024 - 09:41:25 Modified Time: 12.05.2024 - 09:41:25

Brendon McCullum showed the respect that Anderson deserves – England have got this just right Getty Images/Stu Forster James Anderson’s one regret will be that it took a tap on the shoulder for his career to end but he should view that as a massive compliment and for once England have got this kind of thing right

Brendon McCullum showed the respect that Anderson deserves – England have got this just right

: Getty Images/Stu Forster

James Anderson’s one regret will be that it took a tap on the shoulder for his career to end but he should view that as a massive compliment and for once England have got this kind of thing right.

It reflects well on Brendon McCullum that he flew over from New Zealand to deliver the news face-to-face and it shows Jimmy’s huge competitive edge that until that moment he was still up for the fight and wanted to carry on. McCullum is a good communicator and he knew England’s greatest deserved to be told in person, not on Zoom or on the phone. That would have been terrible.

A few in the past have deserved better from England management at the end of their careers and credit to McCullum for doing it the right way. Jimmy can be grumpy and it may not have been an easy conversation, but he is 41 and the time is right. Actually, the harder conversation for a captain or coach is telling a young kid he is not going to make it but even so, this would have been difficult for McCullum who has so much respect for Jimmy.

At 41, it was always likely to come to an end soon but it is still a shock it has happened because he has been around so long. It will be weird after the Lord’s Test to see an England squad without Jimmy.

: Getty Images/Stu Forster

It is very rare for players to have a farewell Test and he deserves it. That one Test to say thank you is exactly the right decision for all concerned. It would have been wrong for Jimmy to play four or five Tests this summer, not knowing which one was going to be his last. This way everyone can move forward: players, supporters and the England management.

England need pace Down Under in 18 months’ time and not having Anderson and Stuart Broad leaves a huge hole to fill but now they can start planning properly. It has made getting Jofra Archer fit and back bowling in Test cricket all the more important. For someone like Ollie Robinson, who is probably the most skilful bowler out there now, this is a massive opportunity. He must take this chance to be England’s attack leader. If he doesn’t then we know he has not got the right stuff, the attitude and desire that made Anderson such a great cricketer.

Jimmy is up there with the greatest British sportspeople of all time, no question. To be at the pinnacle of his sport for 20 years, delivering a skill that pounds the body, coping with the mental turmoil of Test cricket, the amount of time away from home and his constant dedication to getting better is the mark of greatness.

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