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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