We cling because where else do we go when it’s over for Jimmy Anderson? | Jonathan Liew

Test cricket will lose a part of itself when England’s elder statesman retires and, while it will survive, it will be painful

“Oh mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head.” A few weeks ago English cricket was thrown into a medium-sized spasm by the news that Jimmy Anderson had sustained a groin injury playing for Lancashire against Somerset. On one level it felt faintly ridiculous that England’s Ashes chances should rise or fall on the fitness of a man old enough to have bowled at Derek Randall. But the predominant sensation was really a kind of paralysing fear: the sort that grips you when you hear that an elderly relative has fallen over at home. Everyone knows the stakes here. Every twinge, every niggle and every limp now comes with a sinister metatext: “this time, you know, it might really be over”.

But still we cling, because we don’t know where else we can go. Naturally Anderson’s injury turned out to be little more than a minor setback. He will be rested for the Test against Ireland this week. And so come 16 June, in all likelihood, we will once again be treated to the sight of Anderson gingerly grimacing his way to the bowling crease: blisters popping in his boots, face writ with that peculiar mixture of acute discomfort and acute satisfaction. Anderson, more than any bowler of his generation, has learned to associate pain with reward. This thing is supposed to hurt. That’s how you know it’s worth it.

Continue reading...

England head for the fairways again in bid to tee up successful Ashes

  • Hosts start with time at Stoke Park before one-off Ireland Test
  • Spells at St Andrews, Gleneagles and Loch Lomond to follow

England and Australia will be teeing off before a ball is bowled in the Ashes, with some of the country’s most prestigious golf courses staging preparations for both men’s teams before the summer’s marquee Test series.

Australia arrive in the UK this weekend for the World Test Championship final against India, which gets under way at the Oval on 7 June. In addition to training and intra-squad cricket at Beckenham – there are no county warm-up matches scheduled – the tourists are reported to have lined up golf at Formby on Merseyside.

Continue reading...