Root: Write An­der­son off at your peril

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tim Wig­more

James An­der­son is poised to play for Eng­land in the sec­ond Test against Pak­istan start­ing to­day and cap­tain Joe Root has de­clared that those who ques­tion him “do that at your peril”.

An­der­son has taken only six wick­ets at 41 apiece in three Tests this sum­mer, be­ing out­shone by Stu­art Broad and Chris Woakes. But Root backed Eng­land’s high­est Test wicket-taker to re­turn to his best.

“I think to ques­tion Jimmy’s abil­ity and his record, do that at

your peril. There’s a rea­son he’s got so many wick­ets over such a long pe­riod,” Root said. “I think we’re go­ing to see the best of him soon. It would be silly for us to write Jimmy off. He’s still as ded­i­cated as ever, he’s work­ing hard at his game and he’s been good in prac­tice. I don’t think it will be long be­fore he’s got an­other five-for next to his name.”

An­der­son, who turned 38 last month, has ad­mit­ted that he “got a lit­tle bit emo­tional on the field, got a bit frus­trated”, dur­ing the first Test against Pak­istan, when he took only one wicket.

“For him to get that off his chest and talk about it has helped him,” Root said. “It shows that even the greats of the game have those days where it doesn’t al­ways come natuto rally, where it doesn’t al­ways feel like the eas­i­est game in the world and you know it can be a strug­gle some­times. That’s the way it goes and I feel with Jimmy we know it won’t be long be­fore he’s back at the top and at the peak of his pow­ers and I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing him per­form this week.

“You don’t have to say too much to him, just more than any­thing, ‘re­mem­ber what a great player you are’ and just be hon­est about where you’re at and how it’s com­ing out over a pe­riod of time.”

With An­der­son keep­ing his place, the only change is likely to be Zak Craw­ley re­plac­ing Ben Stokes, who has flown to New Zealand for fam­ily rea­sons. Craw­ley will re­vert No3, al­low­ing Root to drop to his pre­ferred po­si­tion at four.

Ol­lie Robin­son, the Sus­sex seamer who is highly re­garded by the Eng­land man­age­ment and has ex­celled for Eng­land Lions, was in­cluded in Eng­land’s 14-man squad, re­plac­ing Stokes. But his best hope of a Test de­but this sum­mer is if Eng­land can wrap up the se­ries with one Test to play.

“He’s been in the bub­ble and has been im­pres­sive,” Root said. “For a long time he’s per­formed at county level and it’s nice to see him bowl­ing with con­fi­dence and high skill in prepa­ra­tion for this game.”

Root ad­mit­ted that the ab­sence of Stokes was “a huge loss for us”, say­ing that Eng­land would also miss Stokes’s in­put as vice-cap­tain. In Stokes’s ab­sence, Jos But­tler – who made a cru­cial 75 in the last Test after ad­mit­ting to doubts over how long he would re­main in the side – will step up as vice-cap­tain.

Root also backed Jofra Archer to re­turn to his best in the Test arena. “You have to trust him, keep giv­ing him op­por­tu­ni­ties to show off how good a player he is. He is a per­former, some­one who can light up the stage. He might be miss­ing the crowd, the at­mos­phere in the ground and feed­ing off that. Like Jimmy, it won’t be long be­fore we see a big per­for­mance.”

Root is try­ing to draw level with Alas­tair Cook and Sir An­drew Strauss on 24 wins as Test cap­tain.

Point to prove: James An­der­son works on his game ahead of to­day’s sec­ond Test at the Ageas Bowl, hav­ing fared poorly in the se­ries opener

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