England fast bowler James Anderson is utilising the current down time to prepare a plan of action that helps him return to the national side.
England were touring Sri Lanka when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic earlier this month. The two-Test series was thus postponed, and England were forced to return home after the warm-up games.
Anderson, 16 shy of becoming the first pacer to take 600 Test wickets, was not a part of the squad. "I think the decision was taken to give me a bit more time to be 100% for the summer," he said. "Having toured Sri Lanka fairly recently, the part seam bowlers play [on the wickets there] is fairly limited, so it made sense to me to look a little bit further ahead."
Having recovered from a rib injury he suffered in South Africa, the 37-year-old remains optimistic. He believes he has a year or two left in his career, and plans to do everything he can to get back into the squad.
"My plan is to get back in the England team, I think I can still play a part. I am hungry to play and I've still got ambitions so that is going to keep me driven. Long term, I think I could get to next summer.
"I'm certainly going to enjoy putting the whites back on and cherish it but it could be a way off now."
With all cricket suspended and England in a lock-down, the seamer is concerned about not getting enough practice before international cricket resumes.
England are scheduled to play West Indies in a three-Test series in June, and if that series was to go according to plan, it might pose a problem for Anderson. "You are going to need some sort of build-up. You can't go from not bowling to bowling in a Test match at fairly short notice. How long that is I'm not sure," he explained.
If county cricket does not resume, Anderson insists he is willing to play in white-ball tournaments like The Hundred and T20 Blast this summer to get some game time.
"I want to be playing cricket and if that is the only cricket going on, whether it's The Hundred or the T20 Blast, then I'd love to be involved in that," he said. "If there wasn't any red-ball cricket then it would be a long, long time for me to just be ticking over in the nets.
My plan is to get back in the England team, I think I can still play a part. I am hungry to play and I've still got ambitions.
"I'd much rather be playing competitive cricket than not. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it."
Despite their quarantine, England players are catching up online and ensuring they stay positive during the lock-down. "It's nice to have some interaction with other people and I think it will become more and more prevalent as the weeks go on. I think keeping fit helps the mind as well," said Anderson, who is involved in a a virtual cycling challenge with teammates Stuart Broad and Mark Wood.
"I'm doing everything but bowling as I don't really have the space. At a push I could bowl against a wall just to keep the body staying used to the movements. I have been going through my action in the living room. Subconsciously, your body wants to do it!"
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