By Dominic Farrell
James Anderson insists he must prove he is worthy of a place in the England team this summer.
Following the end of Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen’s England careers, the idea of a line-up also without the man who currently lies second on the country’s all-time list of international wicket-takers might seem absurd.
But Anderson refuses to see things that way and is determined to hit the ground running for Lancashire when the domestic season begins on April 6.
It is perhaps foolish to bet against such a prospect as the Red Rose mark their return to LV= County Championship Division One with a trip to face Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, traditionally one of the 31-year-old seamer’s favoured stomping grounds.
Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, Anderson said: “From my point of view, I’ve got to really prove that I’m worth my place in the England team.
“That means taking wickets for Lancashire at the start of the season and I’m sure all the bowlers will be doing exactly the same.
“The batsmen are going to have to go out there and score a lot of runs because there will be places up for grabs.
“Form in the early part of the season will be a huge part of getting picked in the team.”
The sense of a new era for England was underlined during the recent 2-1 one-day international series triumph over West Indies.
New Lancashire signing Jos Buttler, Anderson’s long-time county colleague Stephen Parry and fellow debutant Moeen Ali all impressed in the Caribbean.
Far from feeling threatened as one of the elder statesmen of the England set-up, Anderson feels blooding new players will form an essential part of the recovery from a chastening winter in Australia.
“There’ll be a few different faces around in the summer and that’s just something we’re going to have to get used to, and quickly,” he said.
“In a way, after a heavy defeat like we had in the winter, it’s actually a good thing to have that sort of fresh start and fresh faces around to give everyone a boost.
“Hopefully we can right the wrongs of the winter when the summer comes around.”
As his international team-mates step up their preparations for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, Anderson will remain hard at work as part of Lancashire’s pre-season programme and he feels ready to reap the rewards of some typically diligent work on his craft behind the scenes.
“I’ve come back in here and worked really hard on my seam position, making sure I’m swinging the ball as much as I ever have and just trying to get that consistency back,” he added.
“From the stuff I’ve been doing I feel really good now. From a technique point of view I’ve been able to build my bowling up, starting with drill work.
“Not back to basics but almost that sort of thing. I went through the check list of is my seam position good, am I swinging the ball? Everything feels good at the moment.”
That sounds like good news for everyone associated with English cricket, with the probable exception of opposing batsmen.