James Anderson explains the physical toll of being a fast bowler

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If there has been one constant figure during the ups and downs of England cricket over the past decade then James Anderson would be that man.

The Lancashire fast bowler, who has been a superb servant for his country over 133 test matches, is approaching his last five-day encounter against the old enemy on Australian soil.

It is a country where he has experienced some highs like the 2010-11 Ashes victory and some crushing lows, such as the 5-0 thumping four years later.

While the Australian audience has not seen Anderson at his best in previous tours, this series the 35-year-old has arguably been England's most consistent performer throughout the first four test matches, taking 16 wickets at an average of just over 26.

Contrast that to four years ago, when he took 14 wickets at an average of 43 for the entire series.

In a column for The Telegraph, Anderson says the positives and negatives he has faced 'down under' have shaped him into the player he is today.

"I have enjoyed playing here, Sydney is an amazing ground to play my last game on and I will try and soak up the experience.

"I am delighted with my form and feel like I have bowled as well here as I did in 2010-11.

"The wickets have been a lot flatter this time around and there will be stiffness in my body after bowling 59 overs in Melbourne."

Australia v England - Fourth Test: Day 1

Of course, now approaching the latter stages of his career, the Lancashire ace must place even more emphasis on preparing his body.

And Anderson has revealed what the burden of playing Test cricket at the highest level for the best part of decade has on his body

He added: "Recovery is mainly about managing my shoulder and bowling actually loosens it up.

"It is about getting a balance between bowling enough to loosen it, but not too much to cause a problem. 

"It can affect me in normal life, sometimes it hurts brushing my teeth or putting on a T-shirt in the morning, or anything else that gets me into an awkward position.

Australia v England - Fourth Test: Day 1

"It is just about working with the physio and doing exercises with a rubber band to keep the joint loose and the muscles around the shoulder strong.

As he has gone through his career, Anderson has become wiser to read the signs from his body about what is general 'wear and tear' from bowling and what is a specific and potentially more troubling problem.

Despite losing the Ashes in Perth, England produced a much better showing in the Boxing Day Test and were the in the box seat for a win on the final day, before Steve Smith denied them with another superb century.

Australia v England - Fourth Test: Day 4

Anderson says that the squad is full of confidence heading into the final test, and believe there is still plenty to play for.

"There are no such thing as dead rubbers and it would mean everything to win here in Sydney.

"It is a Test at the SCG against Australia. Both sides play with the same intensity regardless of the series situation.

"You feel pride representing your country and it is a great opportunity for us to build on the good things we did in Melbourne."

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The Ashes
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