The county quicks who could replace Jimmy Anderson

With James Anderson set to retire from Test cricket after the first Test of the summer, we take a look at some of the bowlers in county cricket who will hope to replace him

Matthew Potts

Many might suggest that Matthew Potts is the obvious option for England. Go back to his Lord's Test debut against New Zealand in 2022, where at one stage he had figures of 4/8 from his first 8.1 overs. 

Potts played five Tests that summer and featured against Ireland at the Home of Cricket last summer too, remaining an unused squad member in the Ashes. Across 11 innings, he has 23 wickets - claiming at least one every time he's bowled in a Test.

MORE: How have England players performed in the Vitality County Championship?

That Potts can expect to play alongside the England captain, Ben Stokes, at Durham before this summer's internationals isn't decisive, but it's certainly no hindrance. So too the fact that Potts can bat: alongside his eight 2024 Championship wickets thus far, he also struck his maiden first-class hundred, as a nightwatcher at Warwickshire. 

Matthew Fisher

Despite being a 26-year-old, Matthew Fisher has been on the county circuit for more than a decade. His 40-over debut in 2013 made him the youngest post-war county cricketer, aged just 15 years and 212 days. He became Yorkshire's sixth-youngest Championship debutant at 17 years and 161 days in 2015.

Since then, he's got a good first-class record, taking 126 wickets in 41 matches. Things have not been straightforward in recent years: he suffered a stress fracture in 2022, shortly after his Test debut in the West Indies, where he took a sole international wicket.

That Bridgetown match remains his only international appearance but he has been on England Lions tours for the past three winters and plays a key role in Yorkshire's bowling attack.

Fisher's Test wicket came with his second ball for England

Saqib Mahmood

Saqib Mahmood made his return from injury for Lancashire at Nottinghamshire in the season's sixth week, and will be hoping to put himself back in England contention as he builds up match fitness.

Having missed nearly a year of senior cricket after suffering a recurrence of a stress fracture, Mahmood took a wicket in each innings at Trent Bridge. His workload seemed to be being managed, as he bowled just 18 first-innings overs without injury compared to the 30+ of Lancashire's other frontline bowlers.

Mahmood has played IT20 and ODI cricket across four different series per format since his 2019 debut, and made his Test bow in the West Indies two years ago. If he can keep fit and firing, he won't be far away.

Dillon Pennington

If you're after knowledgable praise for Dillon Pennington, look no further than Morne Morkel. Pennington's sixth first-class appearance came against Morkel's Surrey in 2018, and the South African had this to say: 

"I was blown away by him. He’s got a lot of potential and has a really bright future and in time he will pick up experience and all those sort of things."

A sage judge, and Morkel's words have come to fruition. Pennington's played in four of the opening six rounds of matches, but he's bowled the most deliveries for Nottinghamshire, taking 16 wickets with at least one in every innings. He's done it at speed and with a good line and length - 12 of his 16 scalps have been caught behind the wicket. 

Sam Cook

Essex's attack has been formidable over several years now, led by Simon Harmer and Jamie Porter, but it's Sam Cook who has found sparkling form over the past couple of seasons. Since the start of 2022, only Harmer (128) has more Championship wickets than Cook's 124. 

Cook is relentlessly accurate and for proof of the difficulty facing him, look no further than his bowling average - 16.52. It's the lowest of any bowler to have played more than 10 matches since 2022. Overall, he's got 276 wickets in the Championship since his debut back in 2017. 

Earlier this season, he became the first Essex bowler to claim a first-class hat-trick in more than 14 years. That came in the opening round, a match using the Kookaburra ball with which he took 10 wickets, highlighting his ability to take wickets when conditions may not be in his favour.

Gus Atkinson

Gus Atkinson has already been involved at international level, featuring in the World Cup as well as a handful of bilateral ODIs and IT20s at the end of 2023. He joined the Test squad on the trip to India although went unused.

Clocked bowling at 90mph and above, Atkinson's pace has troubled plenty of batters in the domestic game. His limited involvement in the early part of his career - just eight Championship matches until the end of 2022 - owed in part to injuries but on his return last season, he claimed career-best figures of 6/68. 

Atkinson's got a good reputation as a white-ball bowler, especially at the death, and he's featured 46 times in T20 cricket. But he's shown plenty of promise with the red ball.

Atkinson hits high speeds and has played in a World Cup

Josh Hull

One of the least experienced bowlers in the county game, Josh Hull made headlines twice in 2023: first by removing Adam Lyth in his first over of professional cricket, then by bowling the superb, match-winning last over in Leicestershire's Metro Bank One-Day Cup triumph.

At 6' 7", Hull's height offers a point of difference. So too does his left-arm angle: Sam Curran, Ryan Sidebottom, and Alan Mullally are the only left-arm quicks to play a Test for England this century.

Hull has been eased into the season by Leicestershire, featuring only in 2nd XI matches across the first six weeks after recovering from a pre-season side strain. But as fitness and form come, he may find his name in the ring.

Zaman Akhter

Another man with few first-class matches under his belt, Zaman Akhter certainly knows how to get himself noticed. His first two wickets of the 2024 season were two fairly notable names: Joe Root and Harry Brook.

The Gloucestershire quick went on to claim figures of 5/89 before getting Root again in the second innings. Akhter bowls with real pace, hitting 90mph, and combined with his accuracy he's proven to be a real danger.

His opportunity came through the South Asian Cricket Academy, where he was rated highly enough that multiple counties wanted his signature despite him never playing a match for SACA. 14 of the 28 first-class wickets he's taken have been players who have played international cricket. His stock is high - and he's got a batting average of 27, too.