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James Anderson: England skipper Ben Stokes is the best captain I’ve played under

James Anderson of England (R) celebrates with Joe Root, Ollie Robinson and Ben Stokes after dismissing Keegan Petersen of South Africa during Day Four of the Third LV= Insurance Test Match between England and South Africa at The Kia Oval on September 11, 2022 in London, England.
James Anderson (right) believes England captain Ben Stokes (second right) has been faultless since taking over from Joe Root (left) as skipper

England bowler James Anderson says “born leader” Ben Stokes is the best captain he has played under in his 23-year career.

Anderson has been captained by Ashes winners Michael Vaughan, Sir Andrew Strauss and Sir Alastair Cook since earning his first Test cap in 2003.

Stokes replaced Joe Root as England Test skipper last summer and has won 10 of his first 12 games in charge.

“I think he’s been spot on so far,” said Anderson.

“I can’t fault anything really. I think everyone knew that he was a leader, the way he trains, whether it’s the gym or whether it’s catching or batting or bowling – the way he goes about his business, he is the ultimate professional.

“The way he plays, he leaves everything out there. So he’s a born leader.”

Asked if Stokes was the best captain he had played under, Anderson paused for a moment before answering: “Yeah. It is hard to say over a short period of time but he’s had an amazing start.

“I think he is completely different from any captain I’ve ever played with before and I’ve really enjoyed it.

“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.

“If he needs to put his arm around someone or fire someone up, he’s just got a really good way of doing that. And the way he speaks to the group as well is excellent. So I’ve been really impressed.”

Playing ‘three or four out of five’ Tests is realistic

Having excelled playing a bold and expansive style of play under Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, England take on Australia this summer aiming for a first Ashes series win since 2015.

Despite sustaining a mild groin strain playing for Lancashire in the County Championship last week, Anderson expects to be fully fit for the first Test at Edgbaston on 16 June.

However, with five Ashes Tests in little more than six weeks, the 40-year-old expects there to be some rotation among the bowlers during the series.

“I think playing all five is a little bit optimistic,” he said. “I think three, not just for myself – if you said to any of the bowlers three out of five, I think that’s probably more realistic, more sensible. If it’s four then great.

“The thing is, you’ve got to take it game by game. If we’re bowling 250 overs in the field in five days then you’re probably going to have a rest. There could be rain, we could bowl them out cheaply.

“You’ve got to play it by ear. But yeah, realistically, three or four out of five would be more realistic than five.”

Regardless of how many matches he plays, Anderson is confident that if England are at their best, they can reclaim the urn that has been in Australian hands since 2017-18.

England’s leading wicket-taker added: “It’s fairly relaxed, we’re trying to enjoy ourselves, we’re trying to entertain people, take the positive option.

“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. So yes, I think we can win. “

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