Jimmy Anderson on Ben Stokes, Bazball and attacking the Australians
‘He likes tinkering with the field and it’s really enjoyable as a bowler. It never gets boring!’ Jimmy Anderson on Ben Stokes, Bazball and attacking the Australians ahead of the Ashes
- England are preparing for the most anticipated Ashes series since 2005
- Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum have overseen remarkable transformation
- Jimmy Anderson says if they stick to their principals they can reclaim the urn
Jimmy Anderson delivers an ultra-positive message in his usual calm and collected manner when asked how Australia will tackle the ‘new’ England in the biggest Test series of them all.
‘They are naturally extremely competitive and aggressive in the way they play,’ said the most prolific wicket-taker in seam bowling history. ‘They’ll have discussed the way we’re playing and will have their own plans to deal with us.
‘I just think, if we do what we’ve been doing and play as well as we possibly can, I don’t think anyone in the world can cope with it.’
It is that last comment that makes this the most anticipated Ashes series since 2005. Anderson has never been one for big statements in his extraordinary 20-year career but even he has been swept along by the prevailing mood of the ‘Bazball’ revolution.
‘For me the exciting thing is seeing how different teams react to what we’re doing and how it all works against those different teams,’ he said. ‘I’m sure we’ll have to do some things slightly differently against Australia but we’ve coped with everything that has been thrown at us so far. If we keep the same mentality now of course we can win.’
Jimmy Anderson is relishing the transformation of England’s fortunes under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes
England welcome Australia this summer in the most anticipated Ashes series since 2005
Their brand of cricket has reinvigorated the game and sets the country up for a vital summer of cricket
That positivity over England’s chances this summer is matched by Anderson’s progress report on the injury that caused panic among England supporters when he quietly walked off on the first day of Lancashire’s draw with Somerset.
The groin strain is a minor one, he confirmed, and he will be fit enough to take on Ireland in the pre-Ashes Test at Lord’s on June 1 but will probably sit it out to make sure he is ready for the big one at Edgbaston two weeks later.
It was in Birmingham in the first Test four years ago that Anderson’s Ashes came to a premature and shuddering end when he limped off with a calf injury after bowling just four overs and was not seen again all summer. This, he insists, is different.
‘That was a more serious injury,’ he said. ‘I ripped my calf earlier that summer and it was a real push to get ready for the first Test. I don’t feel like this is anything like that and I am desperate to be fit for the Ashes. If that means missing Ireland so be it.’
Much has been made about the impact of the Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum transformation on batting but Bazball has had an equally positive effect on bowling. Anderson, who has spent much of his record-breaking career ‘bowling dry’ to take wickets, has been an old dog very willing to learn new tricks.
Anderson endured injury hell during the last time Australia toured England back in 2019
‘It’s a shift in mindset from previous regimes,’ he explained. ‘Before we would say if we can go for less than 2.7 runs an over we can create pressure and chances. But Ben couldn’t care less about the run-rate. He wants 20 wickets as soon as possible. If it means setting attacking fields for 10-15 overs longer than we would have done in the past, he’ll do that. He likes tinkering with the field and it’s really enjoyable as a bowler. It never gets boring. I love it. There’s a better feel and everyone is involved.’
Anderson, nearing 41, remains as important to England as ever, particularly as Stokes’ hopes of having a squad of eight Ashes fast bowlers to choose from has taken a hit with more serious injuries to Jofra Archer and Olly Stone.
‘It’s brutal,’ said Anderson of the elbow issues that now cast doubts over Archer’s very Test future. ‘I can’t imagine what he’s going through.
‘Similarly with Olly. He bowled at me this season and it was one of the quickest spells I’ve faced. It must be so frustrating for them, particularly Jofra to have that recurring thing. I just hope he can get back at some point.’
Anderson’s Ashes record
Stokes is hoping to lead England to their first Ashes triumph since a 3-2 victory in 2015
McCullum and Stokes have sought to alleviate pressure from the players through a variety of methods
England are ready to attack Australia this summer after eight years without the urn
The lack of the extra pace of Archer and Stone not only leaves added responsibility on the other bowlers but it also makes the bowling fitness of the captain, capable of that extra pace and a point of difference, all the more crucial.
‘Ben is conscious of the lack of help he’s been able to give the seamers because of his knee and is working really hard to be a big bowling part of the summer,’ said Anderson. ‘It gives the opposition something else to think about. It’s not just facing three seamers — it’s facing a world-class all-rounder as well.’
And facing a captain who insists he will carry on doing things his way. ‘I saw Ben spoke to Nasser (Hussain) and was asked if he would declare and give Australia a chase at the Oval if England were 2-1 up. He just said “yeah”,’ added Anderson.
‘I know we’re going to get the same messaging from Ben and Brendon this summer. Yes, there’ll be a bit more attention on it because it’s an Ashes but I hope we can play the same way. It’s been brilliant to be part of so far.’
Jimmy Anderson was speaking at a launch announcing Radox as an official partner of England cricket.
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