England captain Ben Stokes has backed his struggling seamer James Anderson ahead of the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval, starting on Thursday, July 27. However, Anderson has been under the scanner for his poor performance in the ongoing Ashes series, picking up only four wickets across six innings so far as well. And, despite all the noise about his retirement, James Anderson managed to retain his place in the playing XI and he is also confident as well.
“Although he’s not had the impact he would have liked to in this series, he’s a quality bowler,” Ben Stokes told reporters on the eve of the match.”It’s very hard for anyone to sit here and say he’s not. Jimmy’s come under a bit of flak for that but if Joe Root hadn’t scored the runs he would have liked, you wouldn’t be questioning him staying in the team as a batter. James Anderson is the greatest fast bowler to play the game and he’s still looking as good as he was two years ago.”
However, James Anderson has picked up 689 wickets in 182 Tests, the highest among pace bowlers as well. Overall, he is the third-highest wicket-taker in the history of Test cricket after Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Shane Warne (708). Meanwhile, Ben Stokes also opined on another senior pacer, Stuart Broad, who has been in sublime form in this series. He is the highest wicket-taker in the series with 18 wickets as well.
“It’s been incredible,” Ben Stokes said. “We said before we started it would be very difficult for a bowler to play in all five, but he’s been awesome. It’s very hard to look past someone like that who has had such a big impact at important times. You have to give him huge credit for stringing five games in a row together. That’s testament to all the hard work he puts in off the field.”
However, England failed to level the series 2-2 at Old Trafford in Manchester after rain had the final say on Day 5. And, Ben Stokes said that the feeling was emotionless, saying a win or a defeat would have been a better result for them as well as they lost the first two Tests already and bounced back for the third.
“Leaving Manchester after the game was done, I’ve never left the field, never left a game emotionless,” he again said. “It was a really bizarre feeling the way the game petered out because of the weather. You sort of look back and wish maybe we either got beat or Australia managed to pull a draw off in that situation.”
“Shaking hands with the umpires and the opposition at the end, you could see that from both sides, it was emotionless, Australia retaining the Ashes and us not being able to win it back,” Ben Stokes concluded. “Two teams of professional athletes want to be out there playing against each other, doing what we do. It was a flat feeling.”