James Anderson on facing Virat Kohli next year: 'It will be a tough battle'

James Anderson and Virat Kohli chat while leaving the field
August 30, 2020

England pace bowler James Anderson has said he looks forward to a "tough battle" against India captain Virat Kohli during the tour of India next year.

"It's always tough bowling against batsmen of that quality," Anderson told the Test Match Special podcast on Friday. "Obviously, I've had some success against him in 2014 and then he came back a completely different player in 2018 and it was incredible. It will be a tough battle in that respect, but that's something I do enjoy against the best players. As a bowler, you want to get the best players out."

The 38-year-old Anderson, who became the first quick bowler to take 600 Test wickets during England's home series against Pakistan, has had several intriguing battles with Kohli over the years. When India toured England in 2014, Anderson was Kohli's nemesis, with the right-arm pacer dismissing him on four occasions and Kohli scoring just 134 runs in his 10 innings. However, in 2018, he was the top run-scorer in the Test series with a 593-run tally, including two centuries and three fifties to his name.

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Asked what changes he noticed in Kohli's batting in 2018, Anderson said, "I just felt he left the ball really well [in 2018]. The first time he came over [in 2014], when I was bowling an outswinger, he might chase it early on, so that brought the edge and the slips into play.

"I just felt like he left a lot better and he was a lot more patient [in 2018]. He waited for you to come to him because he's very strong off his legs; he got more off that shot. And once he got any start, he played a bit more expansively. His all-round game, both his mental approach and his technique, was that little bit better."

Currently placed fourth among the highest wicket-takers in Tests, Anderson, 38, also touched upon some of techniques he has tried on his tours of the subcontinent.

"We have had our success," Anderson said. "We tried to roll fingers down the side of the ball, just try to make it grip on the dry surface. Having skills like that really helps. We enjoyed bowling [in India]."

After his most recent Test appearance, Anderson reiterated his desire to be part of the England side that goes to Australia for the 2021-22 Ashes series. Speaking to TMS he added that he was "bored" of the discussion around how much longer he could play international cricket.

"The thing that frustrates me the most is there's so much focus on the number next to your name, the 38, which it's become this summer," he said. "People seem to think you can't have much longer left, whereas the way I feel, the way I'm bowling, I feel like I could carry on for a long period of time. But who knows how long it's going to be, I don't want to put a number on it, I don't want to think too far ahead. But I certainly know I can keep playing for a bit longer.

"I do occasionally get into the habit of reading stuff in the media and that's something that I should avoid, because it does frustrate me seeing 'We need extra pace in Australia', I'll be 39 then. But I'll keep trying to improve, if I'm good enough to get in the Test team in a year's time then hopefully I'll be on that plane to Australia and make the team."