Rob Key: James Anderson ‘wasn’t expecting’ conversation that ended his England career

Rob Key: James Anderson 'wasn't expecting' conversation that ended his England career

Rob Key says Jimmy Anderson was not “expecting” the tap on the shoulder that led to his Test retirement, but believes it is “the right decision at the right time”.

Anderson announced that the first Test against West Indies at Lord’s in July will be his 188th and final, bringing the curtain down on a record-breaking career that will see him retire as fast bowling’s leading Test wicket-taker.

The 41-year-old met with Key, coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes in Manchester last month and was told that this would be his final summer in Test cricket. Anderson then decided to bow out after Lord’s.

McCullum flew in from New Zealand for the chat, but Stokes was only in attendance as he was waiting in Manchester for a visa to be issued for the USA so he could go on a family holiday.

“When we made the decision and thought we needed to meet Jimmy to discuss the future, Brendon came to the conclusion that the right thing to do was to fly over to England,” Key told the BBC.

“We had a conversation for about an hour and a half, which Baz led. I don’t think Jimmy was expecting it, but I don’t think it was completely unexpected.

“We felt it was right that Jimmy and the public had the opportunity to say goodbye. We didn’t impress upon him that he needed to make the decision there and then. Not so long ago he decided the Lord’s game would be his last.”

Asked if Anderson had been given the tap on the shoulder, Key said: “Yeah. We said that it’s time to move on. It’s coming to the stage where we’ve got to look towards the future. We had two years since we started the job. It’s not just about the Ashes.

“People need the opportunity to learn how to bowl with that new ball. To go through a day’s Test cricket then realise they have to back it up the next day. Now is the time people have to start learning that.

“I feel this is the right decision, this is the right time. Hopefully he gets a fantastic end at Lord’s. Then like all things, life moves on, and English cricket is going to have to do without Jimmy Anderson. That time was always coming at some point and now we feel is the right time.”

Key named dropped Nottinghamshire pair Olly Stone and Dillon Pennington, as well as Essex’s Sam Cook, when speaking about bowlers who could receive Test opportunities this summer.

“There’s opportunities for so many people, that’s why I’m so excited,” he said. “Pennington has been excellent, we were speaking about him the other day.”

Key added that Jofra Archer will bowl a spell for Sussex second team in their game at Beckenham on Thursday or Friday as he prepares for his international comeback in a T20 against Pakistan at Headingley next week.

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