James Anderson in ‘best shape’ of his thirties as he targets success in Sri Lanka

James Anderson says he is in better shape than at any point in his thirties as England prepare for their two-Test series in Sri Lanka.

Questions about how long he will continue to play have followed the 38-year-old for years but as Joe Root’s side begin a year in which they could play as many as 17 Test matches, Anderson insists he is raring to go.

While England supporters may have their sights on of an away Ashes series at the end of 2021, the leader of the attack is only thinking about the challenge of taking wickets on the typically spin-friendly decks in Sri Lanka.

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“On the last couple of tours, obviously spin has been a huge part of our success here, the wickets have really suited the spinners,” Anderson told reporters.

“But as a seam bowler, we have got a good pace attack here, you are still in the game and there are opportunities to take wickets, there’s reverse swing, the new ball does swing as well.

“I have had some success at Galle before and I know some of the other seamers have as well. It’s not all doom and gloom for us seamers, we have got to be ready to put in a big shift over these next two Test matches.

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“Our job might be shorter spells and less overs in the day but there are definitely still opportunities to take wickets for us.

“I wouldn’t say [the desire to play in the Ashes] is burning bright at the minute because we have got 11 Test matches before that tour so, for me, the focus is right now.

“I am going to focus on Sri Lanka, I have got myself in really good shape and I would say I am in as good a shape as I have been in my thirties, if not better, to be honest.

“I am just going to try and help this team hopefully win Test matches throughout this winter, see how we are when we get to the English summer and just take it from there really. At the minute, I am feeling absolutely fantastic.”

England head straight to India from Sri Lanka for a further four Test matches, and while a winter in the subcontinent might not traditionally be something to enthuse a pace bowler, Anderson is eager to test himself again.

“There is still excitement there, obviously they are difficult tours for seam bowlers but it doesn’t make it any less exciting, it’s just a different challenge,” he added.

“I think the fact that we have not played any cricket as a Test side for quite a few months now means we are all hungry to get out there and start playing again. It’s just an exciting challenge.

“From a seam bowler’s point of view, there are opportunities to take wickets out here… we have just got to work really hard and find the right ways of getting those opportunities when they come.”

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