James Anderson believes Joe Root is still the best man to captain England and has vowed to be part of the team’s next chapter.
Root faced questions over his leadership in the aftermath of Australia securing the Ashes urn on Sunday but insisted he would make a success of it ahead of this week’s concluding match at The Oval.
Things might have been different had he been able to call on the most prolific seam bowler in Test history but Anderson was reduced to a bit-part role, bowling just four overs on the first morning of the series before a calf injury wrecked his hopes of further action.
Anderson is 37 and has played 149 Tests but has no intention of ending his England career on such a disappointing note. And when he does return he hopes Root is still at the helm.
“He’s definitely the man to take us forward. Absolutely, he’s got a lot to give,” Anderson told the PA news agency.
“He has done some great work. But the team has been developing over the last few years and going into a big series like this you want a settled team that’s fit and firing. I feel for Joe as he’s not quite had that. It’s been difficult.”
Head coach Trevor Bayliss ends his four-year reign at the end of the fifth Test and Anderson believes that represents a chance for Root to forge a new partnership with his successor.
“It will be interesting to see who England get in as the next coach and Joe and hopefully, whoever it is, he and Joe can hopefully take the Test team forward. We have shown signs what we can do, there have been signs of being a good Test side, but it’s about making a good team on paper and putting it in practice on the field.”
As for his own future, Anderson is strident. He has been asked questions about potential retirement plans for most of the last few years but his answers remain consistent.
He still loves the game and has no intention of turning his back on it, even after his recent fitness problems.
There is even a new target to aim for – taking his place in a tantalising pace attack with new star Jofra Archer and his long-time partner Stuart Broad.
“One of the big frustrations about not playing is seeing the guys out on the field,” he said.
“It’s been great to see Jofra taking to international cricket the way he has and Broady has been fantastic all series. He’s shown his class all the way through.
“I’d love to be a part of this bowling attack because I think we could have something special there.
“Now I’m focused on trying to get myself fit again and try to get in shape for the winter. I have to try and get my body in as good shape as possible.
“I feel great, in as good condition as I’ve been for a long time. It’s just the calf that’s been the hindrance. Get that working, strong again, and I’m hopeful I can play a part in New Zealand or South Africa this winter.
“The hunger is still there to go through that rehab process again. If there were any doubts, going through rehab can be tough mentally, but the fact I want to do it and am keen to get going again means I’m still hungry.”
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Joe Root is under “no pressure” as England captain, according to outgoing coach Trevor Bayliss.
Failing to return the Ashes has led to the Yorkshireman’s position being discussed, particularly given his batting performances have been somewhat inconsistent.
But Bayliss, who leaves his role after four years following this week’s final Test, says there are no issues.
“He’s not come under question from anyone making any decisions,” Bayliss said. “He’s under no pressure at all.”
On Root’s form with the bat, Bayliss added: “Everyone goes through periods where they don’t score as many runs as they’d like. I think the Australian team have bowled pretty well to him, so we’ll see how things go further down the line.
“From my point of view, he was our premier batter and the Australians always try and target the opposition captain. He’s played well when he’s got starts and I don’t see too many problems.”
After winning at Old Trafford to go 2-1 up in the series, Australia’s players celebrated on the field and were accused by some of mocking England spinner Jack Leach while doing so.
“Fake news, like Donald Trump says,” Bayliss said. “No one has mentioned it or spoken about it. It’s all talk from you guys (the media).”
Bayliss will return to Australia after the series, having spent four years in the job and taking England to World Cup glory in July.
“On one hand I am sad to be leaving,” he said. “It’s been a fantastic environment to work in, everyone has made me feel at home.
“From a cricket sense we’ve had a lot of good performances, the cherry on top the World Cup win.
“But I am looking forward to getting home and it’s time for someone else to come in with a new voice.”
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Australia have retained the Ashes after victory in the fourth Test against England at Old Trafford.
Here, we look at where the series was won and lost.
The Australia batsman has been on a different level to every other player in the series. Returning to the side after suspension following a very public humiliation and loss of the captaincy last year, the 30-year-old has simply been outstanding. Scores of 144, 142, 92, 211 and 82 are not just brilliant but Bradman-esque. Perhaps the series would have been over earlier had he been fit for the third Test at Headingley.
Failure to capitalise on strong position in first Test
England made a brilliant start to the series as they reduced Australia to 122 for eight on the first day at Edgbaston. It was then, however, that Smith took charge cracking his first century of the summer while Peter Siddle offered stubborn resistance at the other end. England did recover to claim a first innings lead but it was a missed opportunity and they eventually lost by 251 runs.
Absence of James Anderson
England’s all-time leading wicket-taker managed to bowl just four overs in the series before suffering a recurrence of a calf injury. With him off the field England struggled to remove the tail when in a position of dominance at Edgbaston and have missed his new-ball brilliance since. Jofra Archer has come in and done well and Stuart Broad has been England’s best bowler of the series, but the attack would have been more potent with Anderson too.
Missing out at Lord’s
England put themselves in a strong position in the second Test but were unable to bowl Australia out in the second innings despite them losing Steve Smith to a concussion injury. His replacement Marnus Labuschagne hit a battling half-century and Travis Head a defiant unbeaten 42 as the tourists held out for a draw.
Bad day in the field in Manchester
Smith was again outstanding at Old Trafford but England did not help themselves at times in the field and let Australia, with 497 for six declared, score too many in the first innings. Conditions were unpleasant on the first day but Archer was ineffective, catches were dropped and Jack Leach overstepped to his cost when he had Smith caught on a no ball.