Root: Write Anderson off at your peril
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