England fast bowler James Anderson says the team’s “incredible” Test revival has left him eager to return to the fray in the upcoming series against South Africa.
New Test captain Ben Stokes and red-ball coach Brendon McCullum have revitalised the side with their attacking philosophy since taking charge earlier in the English season. England beat Test world champions New Zealand in all three matches of their series before chasing down a huge target to beat India in early July in a match that was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. England return to action tomorrow at Lord’s in the first Test against South Africa and Anderson cannot wait to resume international duty with such a buoyant squad.
“I’ve been itching to get back in the dressing room to be honest,” said the 40-year-old.
“Those four Tests were incredible. Obviously what we did on the field was great, but the energy in the dressing room was brilliant. I felt as happy as I have done in an England dressing room for a number of years, so the last five weeks I’ve just been itching to get back in there.”
England’s attacking approach has been lauded by the players but there have been suggestions such an ultra-aggressive style is unlikely to be a reliable long-term strategy. But Anderson, England’s record Test wicket-taker, is confident that sticking with a positive mindset will prove the right thing for the team.
“I don’t think it has to come unstuck at all,” he said. “If we keep working hard at what we’re doing we now know we’ve got the ability to chase anything down and we’ve got the ability to take wickets in any conditions.
“There may be times when we can’t go hell for leather with the bat and maybe we have to soak up a bit of pressure at times and just be smart about when we put pressure back on the opposition.
“I think if we add that into our already entertaining mindset and be proactive and aggressive in the nature we play I think we can keep doing it.”
PROTEAS not sure how to deal with ‘Bazball’
South Africa are not sure how they are going to deal with England’s new aggressive approach to playing Test cricket with coach Mark Boucher saying yesterday they will adopt a wait-and-see attitude.
England have won their last four Tests under new captain Ben Stokes with an aggressive batting and bowling approach, nicknamed “Bazball”, which helped them chase down big targets to beat both New Zealand and India in the last two months.
Stokes is expected to stick to the formula for the three-Test series against South Africa.
Boucher was asked how his side might counter it after India and New Zealand failed.
“I don’t know, I’ll tell you on the day,” he told a news conference yesterday.
“We’ve got to be adaptable in Test cricket. It’s just about finding a way to try and stop their momentum and maybe change it.”
Boucher predicted that smart cricket would decide the series as South Africa look to stay on course for a place in the next World Test Championship final.
“We believe we’ve been playing a nice brand of cricket and played some tight series recently where we have come out on top. We want to be smart, play aggressive cricket but you’ve got to be smart with that as well,” he said.
“The bottom line is this game is between bat and ball and we’ve got to make smart decisions at certain times of the game, and we are focused on trying to do that.
“England will probably do the same, they have their brand they want to play. We’ve just got to try and match it on the day and try find ways to negate it.”
Boucher is hoping his team’s leading fast bowler Kagiso Rabada would be fit to play after an ankle ligament injury.
“The one concern will be the load on his body and he will have a final test today,” he said.
“I’m hoping he’ll pull through, because he’s a massive player for us,” the coach added.
“For him to be part of the final XI will be very special for us.”
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