Anderson: Fitness the key ahead of Ashes series

“If I’m fit then I definitely will try to play all seven”

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

England pace bowler James Anderson has admitted that getting through the home season without any injuries remains his number one priority ahead of the Ashes series at the end of the year.

England will be involved in Test series with South Africa and the West Indies on home soil before travelling to Australia for the Ashes.

Last summer, Anderson was bogged down by a shoulder problem, but with the Test series against the Proteas only starting in July, the veteran seamer is hoping to prove his fitness in the time he spends playing county cricket for Lancashire.

“The Tests are a long way away,” Anderson, who is part of Lancashire’s pre-season tour of Dubai, said. “I’ll manage the first part of the season with Lancashire to see how my shoulder pulls up and how my fitness goes and if I’m fit then I definitely will try to play all seven.

“This is a long summer with a lot of Test cricket at the back end. I’ll manage the first bit, so I get enough cricket in so I am ready for that Test series, but not so much that I turn up tired.”

Anderson also made it clear that he is currently not focused on the Ashes, which begins on November 23 in Brisbane, but admitted that it will become a massive priority for him as the highly-anticipated series draws closer.

“Not really, no. It’s hard to look past the first games with Lancashire this summer,” he said. “Then there’s a block of white-ball cricket. I’m taking everything step by step. The Ashes is a very important part of this year for the English cricket team and I’ll have to focus on that closer to the time.

“I didn’t enjoy the last trip to Australia [when England were whitewashed 5-0] and I don’t want that to be my last. I’m focused on staying fit and keen on trying to find some form. I need to show the selectors that I’m still eager and hungry. Hopefully that will come across in the first few weeks of the season.”

When asked about how his shoulder problem is progressing, the 34-year-old said: “The shoulder’s feeling good. It’s nice to have a focused amount of time on fitness so I can get my body in shape, get it ready for a long summer.

“When you play lots of international cricket, and play all forms, it’s difficult to have that focused period on fitness. It becomes about maintaining all the time, you want days off when you can get one because there is so much cricket.”

Anderson was also questioned about Alastair Cook, who stepped down as Test captain in February, and said: “I have kept in touch with him over the last couple of months. A lot has changed. He is happy now he is just focusing on his batting, rejoining the ranks.

“I think that will do him the world of good both mentally and his performance with the bat. It’s a great opportunity for Joe [Root, England’s new Test captain] – it’s an exciting time for those two, but the rest of us as well.”

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