Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Strauss: Next Ashes ‘too far’ for Anderson (but he should receive a knighthood)

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Andrew Strauss has called for James Anderson to receive a knighthood as the England legend prepares for his 188th and final Test cap at Lord’s this week.

As Test cricket’s most productive pace bowler with 700 career dismissals at 26.52, and England’s most capped cricketer, “Sir Jimmy” seems a foregone conclusion.

Strauss is one of a number within English cricket to be recently awarded knighthoods, having received the honour in 2019 from Queen Elizabeth II for his services to charity, sport and cricket (his longtime opening partner Alastair Cook is also a Sir). Having captained Anderson for 42 Tests, and also worked above the 41-year-old as the ECB’s director of men’s cricket, Strauss has had a box seat to Anderson’s brilliance. He can also speak to his longevity, having retired from Test cricket 12 years ago, despite making his debut a year after Anderson in 2004.

When asked if Anderson was worthy of being knighted too, Strauss was unequivocal: “Very much so! I think any fast bowler that plays 188 Test matches deserves a knighthood, I’ll put it that way.”

Strauss had previously tried and failed to park Anderson and Stuart Broad, who retired at the end of last summer. Off the back of a disastrous 2021-22 Ashes campaign, Strauss, in his guise as interim director of cricket following the departure of Ashley Giles, dropped the pair for a tour of the West Indies.

Their absence was short-lived as Ben Stokes restored Anderson and Broad for the home summer with his first act as Test captain. Two years on, Stokes, with the assistance of Brendon McCullum and Rob Key, have finally pulled the cord on Anderson.

“Jimmy’s still bowling well, as we saw from his performances at Lancashire [for whom he took 7 for 35 last week] but there’s a ticking clock there for the next Ashes, isn’t there?” Strauss said. “I think 18 games until the next Ashes. And at some stage you’ve got to juggle the needs for the future with the needs for the present. So I can understand why they’ve chosen this as the right time to do that.

“One thing we know for sure is that to win in Australia, or to win any test match or any Test series, it all comes down to the quality and variety of your bowling attack. And so, to me, the next Ashes is too far away for Jimmy.

“People have written him off many times, including probably myself, but that does feel too far down the road. And so at some stage you have got to start planning for that.

“I think it’s a tremendous thing that he has the opportunity here this week to feel the love, I suppose, and to get the appreciation he deserves from the cricketing public for those 21 years. It’s going to be a very emotional and poignant Test match and, of course, the boots that need to be filled are immense. But I can understand why this is the right time.”

Strauss will be present for Anderson’s farewell with Lord’s set to turn red on day two to support the Ruth Strauss Foundation’s #RedForRuth campaign.

It will be the sixth year of the initiative, aiming to raise funds and awareness for the charity set-up in memory of Strauss’ late wife, which supports families facing the death of a parent from cancer, and funds more collaboration and research into non-smoking lung cancers.

“Most of what I’ve done in my career, achievement-wise, has been about me but this isn’t,” Strauss said. “This is about a need that we can help fill and I feel very proud we are carrying out Ruth’s wishes to a certain degree. But our work is only just beginning, really.

“We would struggle to do what we do without this ‘Red for Ruth’ Test match and we are incredibly grateful to the ECB, to Lord’s and to the cricket community for continuing to support us.”

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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