Sports, Cricket

“Nobody in the world” can cope with England at their best

Published : 20 May 2023 07:51 PM

James Anderson believes “nobody in the world” can cope with England at their best as they bid to regain the Ashes from arch-rivals Australia.

The 40-year-old England great is set to be involved in his ninth series against Australia, although a minor groin strain could rule him out of a one-off encounter with Ireland at Lord's that precedes the Ashes opener in Birmingham starting on June 16.

Anderson, the most successful fast bowler in Test history with 685 wickets, is a four-time Ashes winner, having helped England take the urn on home soil in 2009, 2013 and 2015 as well as starring in their 2010/11 triumph in Australia.

Longstanding new-ball partner Stuart Broad recently said England's woeful 4-0 series loss 'Down Under' in 2021/22 was "void" due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place at the time.

Anderson, however, jokingly played down that assessment but, on a more serious point, said an England side that have won 10 out of their 12 Tests since captain Ben Stokes and red-ball coach Brendon McCullum joined forces last year were now a very different outfit.

"I get his point with the Covid stuff but, for me, I've voided the last three away series," said Anderson. "I've lost four out of five, I think. That's his coping strategy."

He added: "I'm just excited about the way we've been playing. It's about entertaining people and trying to enjoy ourselves while we do it.

“If you look at our team, if we play to the best of our ability with that mindset, I don't think anyone can cope with us. If we do what we've been doing and play as well as we possibly can, I think nobody in the world can cope with it.”

England's aggressive approach has been in marked contrast to the cautious style that characterised the end of Joe Root's tenure as captain that finished with a miserable run of just one win in 17 Tests.

Stokes has been the driving force behind England's dynamic play and Anderson, who has served under several Test skippers, including Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss, said the all-rounder was a "born leader".

Anderson, speaking at an event organised by England sponsors Radox, was asked if Stokes was the best captain of the lot.

He took his time before replying: "Yeah. It is hard to say over a short period of time, but he's had an amazing start.

"He's a born leader. I think he is completely different from any captain I've ever played with before and I've really enjoyed it. The way he trains, whether it's the gym or whether it's catching or batting or bowling, he is the ultimate professional."

"For me, it's the finer details, not just on the field where his tactical nous has been spot on, but also his emotional intelligence off the field and how he talks to everyone in the group."

Anderson, while admitting to have "old man muscles", remains confident of taking the new ball in the first Test against Australia at Edgbaston.

But with five Tests shoehorned into a schedule of under seven weeks, Anderson said it was likely both teams would have to rotate their pace attacks.

"I think playing all five is a little bit optimistic, and not just for myself," he said.

"If you said to any of the bowlers (they'll play) three out of five, I think that's probably more realistic, more sensible. If it’s four then great, but you've got to take it game by game."