James Anderson admitted he has had to reassess in his own mind England‘s chances of winning the World Cup following their enthralling one-day international series draw against the West Indies.
England have risen to the top of the ODI rankings and are favourites to finally clinch a maiden 50-over global crown on home soil, but they were recently given a reality check in the Caribbean earlier this year.
With buccaneering powerhouse Chris Gayle to the fore, the Windies – who made it through the World Cup qualifying tournament by the skin of their teeth last year – pushed England to their limits.
The Windies almost chased down 419 before blowing away Eoin Morgan’s tourists for 113 to secure a 2-2 stalemate, prompting Anderson to acknowledge that any of the 10 teams are capable of going all the way this summer.
Speaking at Lancashire’s media day, the 36-year-old said: “I’d be really disappointed if England don’t make the semis.
“Before the one-day series against the West Indies my head was nailed on and thinking ‘we’re definitely winning it’.
“But then 2-2 against the West Indies, I know slightly different conditions, but it not necessarily told me that England weren’t up to it but just showed the West Indies, who had to qualify for the World Cup, are still a threat.
“So in my head now, there are 10 teams that can potentially get into the semi-finals, you can’t take anyone for granted.
“It’s wide open but I’m still hopeful that England can go all the way.”
England’s leading Test wicket-taker of all-time has not featured in a limited-overs international in four years, a casualty of their embarrassing World Cup group stage exit.
Since then, England have undergone a remarkable transition from also-rans to world beaters, largely thanks to a star-studded batting line-up that has broken several records.
Batsmen regularly going after bowlers means a part of Anderson is therefore not envious he will be cheering on England from the sidelines.
He said: “I’m too old for it.
“The way they’ve improved over the last four years since the last World Cup has been astronomical and I’ve loved watching it, loved sitting back and commentating on a few games and enjoyed how the team has developed into the team that they are now.
“It’s just a thankless task as a bowler at times: scores of 400 getting chased down and things like that, I’ll leave it to them.”
Since being discarded by England in the white-ball formats, Anderson has taken 195 Test wickets at an average of 21.5 and is second only to Australia paceman Pat Cummins in the bowlers’ rankings.
While he is expected to play a fulsome role in the Ashes that follows the World Cup, he is relishing the opportunity to represent Lancashire on a regular basis.
Not being at the forefront for England in every format has been a boon for the seamer, who insisted he has no plans to end his record-breaking career.
He added: “(Not playing white-ball cricket) just allows me to focus on (Tests), firstly getting fit and keeping fit.
“It’s the blocks of one-day cricket that we play which is my training period and I can then rest and recover from the last Test series and get ready for the next one.
“Those chunks of time are really useful, especially at this stage of my career. It’s kind of nice to have that time. From a fitness point of view, being fresh all the time has helped a lot.
“I’ve no plans to (retire). I still feel fit enough to play, I’ve got nothing new for you, I’ve got a standard answer: as long as I’m fit enough to play, as long as I’m still taking wickets then I’ll keep playing.
“I owe a lot to Lancashire with what they’ve helped me with over the years, they have helped me get to where I’ve got to so it’s nice to have a good stint with them.”