Anderson 'obsessed' with Carl Lewis, backing Root to lead England to new heights

By John Skilbeck 24 January 2021 1
Anderson 'obsessed' with Carl Lewis, backing Root to lead England to new heights

James Anderson is picking up speed after becoming "obsessed" with watching videos of American sprint legend Carl Lewis.

The veteran England bowler bagged his 30th five-wicket Test haul with figures of 6-40 in Sri Lanka's first innings of the second Test in Galle.

It saw the 38-year-old become the oldest paceman to take a five-wicket haul in a Test played in Asia.

Afterwards, Anderson revealed that he wants to run faster than he ever has before, as part of his drive to remain a vital cog in the England team.

Anderson, whose bowling exploits were followed on Saturday by a fine batting display from captain Joe Root, accepts he will no longer play in every Test.

He was left out for the first game in this two-match series but took Stuart Broad's place this week and showed he remains a formidable force.

Only spinners Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble have taken more Test wickets than Anderson, who is always looking for a way to improve.

"Through experience, the more effort you put in, the more rewards you get," he said.

"I've worked really hard on my fitness in the last 12 months. I'm working on stuff like running technique that's going to make me quicker.

"I'm obsessed with Carl Lewis at the moment and watching him run. I don't see why I can't keep improving just because I'm getting older."

Lewis, who won four gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, sustained his track and field career into his thirties, but few sportsmen can match the longevity of Anderson.

"I'm thinking I'm still someone who can do a job for England," Anderson said. "I can still win games of cricket.

"When you do get told you're not playing, it is frustrating, but all that made me do was focus on the second Test.

"But the older I've got, the more I realise they're looking after us and trying to manage us.

"We're playing a lot of Test cricket in a short period of time so we're aware we're going to have to rest from time to time."

In reply to Sri Lanka's 381 all out, England reached 98-2 at the close, having been 5-2 at one stage.

Root (67 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (24no) will resume on Sunday, and Anderson said: "We know now we've got to bat big and we've got to bat for a long time to try to win this game.

"We just need a couple of guys to go big – a couple of decent hundreds, as we saw in the first Test match, really makes a big difference.

"I think it's pretty important to try to get a lead if we can, just thinking of how the pitch is going to go. You don't want to chase down too many in the fourth innings if we're going to win."

Root made a double century in that first Test, and went past Geoffrey Boycott in Saturday's innings to nudge up to sixth place on the list of England's all-time leading run-scorers.

"I'm pretty sure he's not thinking about milestones when he's out there," Anderson said. "I'm not sure he's that sort of player."

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