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Geoffrey Boycott: England must move on from James Anderson before the next Ashes

England fast bowler James Anderson during the fifth Test v India at Dharamsala, with Geoffrey Boycott inset
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Former England batter Geoffrey Boycott feels England are picking James Anderson “on sentiment” and thinks the 41-year-old fast bowler will not be up to the rigours of an Ashes series in Australia at the end of 2025.

The legendary quick claimed his 700th Test wicket in the fifth India-England Test at Dharamsala, making him the first seamer in history to reach the landmark. Anderson averaged 33.50 with the ball in the series, the second lowest among England’s regular bowlers, but only claimed 10 wickets, with the rookie spin trio of Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir all ahead of him. He was also fifth on the list of most overs bowled, with part-timer Joe Root in fourth.

According to Boycott, England are using Anderson “too sparingly”.

“Jimmy Anderson deserves all the adulation and plaudits for staying fit to play 187 Test matches and reach 700 wickets but, because of his age, he is used too sparingly,” he wrote for the Telegraph. “England cannot keep wrapping him in cotton wool and picking him on sentiment forever. In a year-and-a-half England’s next big challenge will be going to Australia to try and win back the Ashes. Fast bowling is physically very demanding and eventually takes its toll on every bowler’s body. Jimmy will be 43 by the next Ashes and I don’t see him being able to do the hard yards on tough, bone hard pitches and in hot weather.”

Boycott called on England to identify quicks capable of getting through more sizeable workloads, with Anderson only breaching the 20-over mark in an innings twice in four appearances in India.

“England have to find some young seamers who can bowl 20 overs and come back the next day ready for more,” he said. “They need to be given matches before the team is selected for Australia. For example, Josh Tongue played at Lord’s against Australia and took five wickets and has never been seen again. Matt Potts 23 wickets in six Tests but has not played since the Ireland game last summer.”

Boycott concluded that, before embarking on that trip to Australia at the end of 2025, the team management should “move on” from Anderson in Test cricket. “Jimmy remains a great craftsman and he can give experience at one end while some new boys get bedded in at the other but before the Australia trip it will be time to nicely say ‘sayonara Jimmy, thank you for the memories. We have loved watching your skill but it is time to move on’.”

Before the Ashes, England will play six Tests against West Indies and Sri Lanka in the 2024 summer before travelling to Pakistan and New Zealand for a repeat of their 2022/23 winter schedule. In 2025, they will host India before travelling Down Under in search of a first Ashes win since 2015.

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