James anderson accepts impending test retirement ahead of final match.

England cricket legend James Anderson has come to terms with his impending Test retirement, even though he feels he is bowling as well as ever as his 42nd birthday approaches.

The first Test against the West Indies at Lord’s, starting on Wednesday, will mark the 188th and final appearance for the paceman, capping off a record-breaking career spanning two decades. Anderson’s 700 Test wickets stand as a testament to his remarkable career, making him the most successful fast bowler in the history of the format, with only India’s Sachin Tendulkar having played more matches.

Although Anderson might have continued playing for the rest of the season, turning 42 at the end of July, the decision to retire was effectively made during a meeting with England managing director Rob Key, red-ball coach Brendon McCullum, and Test captain Ben Stokes in late April. The trio conveyed their intention to make changes to the squad in preparation for the 2025/26 Ashes series in Australia.

“I wouldn’t say it was a surprise because when the three big dogs invited me to a hotel in Manchester for a chat, I didn’t think it was just a normal appraisal,” Anderson said at a news conference at Lord’s. “I had a suspicion that that was going to be the case. I think they were surprised at how calm I was when I reacted. I think I was probably surprised at my reaction. I wasn’t overly emotional about it or angry about it or anything.”

Anderson added, “I saw their point of view and appreciated them taking the time out to lay it out for me, the reasoning and stuff like that. Since then, I’ve come to terms with it and made peace with that decision.”

In early May, Anderson released a statement announcing his retirement from Test cricket after the first Test against the West Indies. “Now I’m just looking forward to one more game and then see what’s ahead,” said the bowler, who will serve as a mentor to England’s quicks for the rest of the season.

Anderson prepared for his Test farewell with an impressive seven-wicket haul for Lancashire against Nottinghamshire in the English County Championship last week. “I feel like I’m still bowling as well as I ever have,” he said. “But I knew it had to end at some point. Whether it’s now or in a year or two… I’d love just to be able to contribute somehow this week. Whether it’s one wicket or whatever it is, I’d love just to make a small contribution and win the game.”

As he brings down the curtain on a Test career that started 21 years ago against Zimbabwe at Lord’s, Anderson acknowledged he might struggle to keep his emotions in check. “I’m sure the emotions during the week will change, but right now what I’m trying to focus on is to stop myself crying,” he said.

Reflecting on his lengthy Test career, Anderson remarked, “Playing my 188th Test at just short of 42 years old makes me the most proud and I’m still pushing myself to be the best I possibly can.”

West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder paid tribute to Anderson, saying, “I’m sure he’s got still a lot left in the tank and stuff to prove. I always like playing against great players and he’s no doubt one of the great players of the game, so I’m looking forward to the contest for one last time.”

As for his future with Lancashire, Anderson has yet to decide. “The likelihood is this week is my last game of first-class cricket this season, but we’ll have to see what happens,” he said. “It’s a difficult one to weigh up because my emotions are all over the place.”