James Anderson looking forward to Ashes tour of Australia in 2021

England's James Anderson (right) checks the ball during the fifth and final day of the Test against the West Indies at Headingley in August 2017 (AFP Photo/Lindsey Parnaby) (AFP)

London (AFP) - England bowling great James Anderson believes if he retains his form he could still be on the plane to Australia as he approaches his 40th birthday for the 2021/22 Ashes series.

The 35-year-old -- who will be spearheading England's attack in the Ashes challenge Down Under later this year -- is three away from reaching the 500 wicket landmark.

It was expected Anderson would enter next week's third and final Test with the West Indies with that figure already breached but even he was powerless to prevent a sublime West Indies batting performance levelling the series at 1-1 last week at Headingley.

Anderson, England's all-time leading wicket taker, says being able to focus on the longer versions of the game, county cricket and Test matches has probably improved his chances of extending his international career.

"I wouldn't rule it out, no," said the Lancashire quickie.

"I'm very fortunate to have the body I have. For a fast bowler, not much stress goes through my body. A lot less than a lot of other fast bowlers.

"It's just a case of looking after myself. If I can keep fit, keep my speeds up, there's no reason why not.

"I don't know whether I've peaked but I think I'm bowling as well as I have.

"I played here (at Lancashire) when Glen Chapple was 40 or 41 and he was as good as he ever was then.

"I know it's slightly different in county cricket but for me, just playing Test cricket, not one-day cricket, there's no reason why I can't extend my career a little bit."

Anderson, who has taken 30 wickets in six Tests this summer coming at an average of 15.9 and a strike-rate of one wicket every 40 balls, said even if the forthcoming Ashes tour went badly he would not quit prematurely.

Spinner Graeme Swann did just that announcing his retirement in the aftermath of Australia taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five Test series on the 2013/14 tour Down Under -- they went on to suffer a 5-0 whitewash.

"If we are 3-0 down I am not going to do a Swanny and just do one!" said Anderson.

"I am not going there and thinking 'right if we don't win this I am done'. We are going there because we want to try to win the Ashes.

"That's as much as I am thinking about it. I think about how I am going to play. How I am going to try to help the team win."