Anderson, at 36 the world’s all-time most successful pace bowler after surpassing Glenn McGrath when he moved to 564 Test wickets against India at The Oval, insists he has no thoughts of retirement as yet.
But as he casts his mind forward to this autumn’s impending tour of Sri Lanka, then another to the West Indies next spring before the 2019 home Ashes, he admits it will be a wrench to know Cook will not be there.
The two great friends have been constant pillars of the Test team for more than a decade – and together, they achieved a perfect send-off for Cook in England’s last match of the summer.
After national record runscorer Cook had signed off with a century in the final innings of his 161-Test career, a day later Anderson duly passed Australia great McGrath with the last wicket of a 118-run victory which gave England a 4-1 series success over the world’s number one team.
Immediately, after knocking out tailender Mohammed Shami’s middle-stump, the veteran seamer sought out his best mate as England walked off in triumph and their two record-breakers shared a last special moment on the pitch together.
“I guess I was emotional, because he’s not going to be there for those times any more,” said Anderson.
“He’s been a very good friend, but he’s (also) been someone I look up to.
“His work ethic and the way he conducts himself, he’s a real idol not to just me but to the rest of the team.
“We’ll still be very good friends – but I’ll just miss him on tours, in dressing-rooms … just that shoulder to lean on when it’s not going that well.”
There was a heroes’ reception for both, of course, from the Oval crowd.
“I think it speaks volumes for him,” added Anderson.
“He’s an amazing guy, an amazing bloke.
“(He’s) so solid, down to earth and (he) really cares about people, cares about English cricket.”
As for his own playing future, Anderson does not discount that – as with Australia great McGrath – the realisation it is his time to go too may come suddenly.
But at present, he is not expecting it.
“I’ll try to get myself in the best condition possible to cope with the rigours of bowling seam in Sri Lanka – which could be tough,” he said.
“Then we’ll see how it goes.
“I read something that Glenn McGrath said he went into the 2006 Ashes with no intention of retiring – and by the end of it he thought his time was up.
“That could happen to me. Who knows?
“(But) I don’t like looking too far ahead. I don’t think it helps me or the team either. If you look too far ahead you take your eye off the here and now.”
Anderson may be set for the briefest of rests as England have made him, his Lancashire team-mates Jos Buttler and Keaton Jennings and Worcestershire’s Moeen Ali available for this weekend’s Vitality Blast finals day at Edgbaston.
Jennings and Moeen are also both free to play in their clubs’ final County Championship fixtures at the end of this month – while the availability of Anderson and his England pace partner Stuart Broad for that last round will be confirmed later.
Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate congratulated Alastair Cook on a fantastic career after the batsmen hit a century in his final Test innings for England.
Cook, 33, ended his Test batting career on Monday in the fifth Test versus India with a remarkable 147. This provided a fitting finale to a record-setting, 12-year international career.
Watch football boss Southgate’s response below when quizzed about his legendary countryman.
Cook’s 33rd Test hundred, replete with nine standing ovations from the 19,300 enticed to witness his historic last hurrah, preceded a late bid for a share of the glory from his fellow England record-breaker James Anderson.
After Cook (147) and Joe Root (125) helped England pile up 423 for eight declared on day four of the fifth Specsavers Test, and Anderson then equalled Glenn McGrath’s all-time world record of 563 wickets for any pace bowler. The upshot was a near hopeless position for India.
Thanks to Anderson, and Stuart Broad, the tourists lurched to two for three before recovering to 58 without further loss in notional pursuit of 464 for victory.
This was billed as an occasion all about Cook – unbeaten on 46 at the start of play, while for good measure his wife Alice reached her due date to give birth to their third child.
It mostly was too as he bade farewell in the grandest manner.
The 33-year-old opener, England’s all-time record runscorer, became only the fifth batsman to bookend his career with a century in his first and last Test as he and Root shared a mammoth third-wicket stand of 259.
Cook belied his stoic reputation as he rapidly ticked off the milestones.
His first standing ovation came for merely walking out to resume his innings, and he needed just two deliveries to complete his half-century.
Next up was Kumar Sangakkara’s mark of 12,400 Test runs, taking Cook up to fifth in the global list.
It did not escape the attention of the PA announcer – and the Monday crowd, warming to the ‘I was there’ experience, lapped it all up again.
Their critical cue was still to come, though – and despite the expectation, there was an element of surprise thanks to Jasprit Bumrah’s four overthrows.
The bonus runs took Cook from 97, after a back-cut single off Hanuma Vihari, to 101 – and a moment of shared delirium.
For once, it seemed, the most self-contained of sportsmen did not know quite what to do with himself.
On adulation auto-pilot perhaps, he waved his bat to all four corners of the ground.
He then exchanged handshakes with his own captain and India’s Virat Kohli, and cupped his ear to the heavens – the unexplained personal gesture he has made on reaching each of his Test centuries.
At the other end, Root’s progress was barely footnote rating.
His 14th century was nonetheless significant as his first not just of the year, like Cook’s, but also in 28 innings since Edgbaston 13 months ago.
Root was twice dropped at slip, on 46 by Ajinkya Rahane off Ravindra Jadeja and 94 by Cheteshwar Pujara off the luckless Mohammed Shami.
His 151-ball century, third as Test captain, contained 11 fours and a six.
England were utterly dominant by the time Root and Cook were both suddenly dismissed in the blink of an eye as debutant Vihari, a part-time off-spinner, put himself on a hat-trick.
Root picked out sub fielder Hardik Pandya with a slog-sweep; then, barely after his due appreciation had died down, Cook edged a cut behind to end his near six-and-a-half-hour stay.
He made his way off, to more vociferous approval of course, twice allowing himself a turn to drink in what he was leaving behind.
Root insisted on some more swishing from England’s middle order and tail until, after a relative rush of wickets, he declared with 18 overs left in the day.
Anderson answered the call and how, with enough movement to have Shikhar Dhawan and Pujara lbw in his second over.
Kohli’s prized wicket has evaded Anderson all summer, and it did again – because Broad instead had him caught-behind for a golden duck, pushing away from his body – before KL Rahul and Rahane quelled the storm.