James Anderson could play until he’s 50, says Saqib Mahmood

James Anderson is as fit as ever and could play professional cricket until he is 50, according to England and Lancashire team-mate Saqib Mahmood.

Veteran Anderson, who celebrates his 41st birthday on Sunday, has been included in his country’s unchanged 14-man squad for this week’s Ashes finale against Australia.

Amid speculation it may be his Test swansong, all eyes will be on how much of a role he plays at the Kia Oval after England’s hopes of reclaiming the urn were wiped out by wet weather in the fourth match.

Saqib Mahmood, pictured, plays with James Anderson for club and country

Saqib Mahmood, pictured, plays with James Anderson for club and country (Mike Egerton/PA)

Sidelined Mahmood, who on Tuesday will undergo a scan on the recurrence of a stress fracture in his back, believes Anderson is far from finished, despite struggling for wickets in the current series, which Australia lead 2-1.

“I’d like to think he’s going to keep playing on after this,” Mahmood told the PA news agency, speaking at the launch of KP Snacks’ community cricket pitches initiative which will fund 100 new pitches over the next three years.

“He’s been so consistent, he’s just had a little blip over the last few weeks and I am sure he will come good.

“You don’t get that many wickets without blips in your career, so I don’t think that is any biggie.

“In a few years’ time after he retires or whenever that may be – he’ll probably play until he’s 50 now – is when you’ll realise I was around a very special cricketer and he’ll go down as one of the best in the game.”

Asked if Anderson is capable of continuing for another decade, Mahmood replied: “Probably. Because he’s as fit as ever. He just seems to keep playing and keep getting better.

“His record over the last 12, 18 months is as good as anyone’s, I would imagine.”

While Anderson’s international future is once again a topic for debate, fellow seamers Mahmood and Reece Topley are on the comeback trail with eyes on this autumn’s ICC Cricket World Cup in India.

James Anderson's hopes of helping England remain in contention for Ashes glory were wiped out by rain in a drawn fourth match of the series

James Anderson’s hopes of helping England remain in contention for Ashes glory were wiped out by rain in a drawn fourth match of the series (Mike Egerton/PA)

Topley, whose career has been littered with injuries, expects to make his return from a dislocated shoulder next week when Northern Superchargers take on Birmingham Phoenix at Headingley in their opening fixture of this season’s Hundred.

The 29-year-old left-armer believes fast bowlers across the sport will be seeking the advice of Anderson when he eventually does retire.

“He’s almost like a unicorn in the sense that it’s unheard of,” Topley said of the longevity of Anderson, who has taken a remarkable 689 wickets in 182 Test appearances – both England records.

“There’s no magic pill or anything like that, it’s just hard work.

Reece Topley is on the comeback trail following a dislocated shoulder

Reece Topley is on the comeback trail following a dislocated shoulder (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

“He’s a master of his craft, he’s worked at his craft and that mindset has surely translated into looking after his body as well.

“I’m sure every fast bowler is going to have him on speed dial, if he does hang them up, to tap into some of his secrets.

“I know he’s had a relatively quiet series but he’s obviously got the class and it wasn’t that long ago that we were all singing his praises so I’m sure he’s not far off a hatful of wickets, no matter if it is his last Test.”

:: KP Snacks are funding 100 new community cricket pitches over the next three years. To find out more and search for a pitch visit: .everyonein.co.uk/pitchfinder

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