James Anderson: Ben Stokes’ ’emotional intelligence’ reinvigorated my England career | Cricket News
England bowler James Anderson says the approach led by Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, and the latter’s ’emotional intelligence,’ has reinvigorated his international career.
Anderson’s tally of 177 Test caps puts him second on the all-time list behind India’s Sachin Tendulkar but, at the age of 40, he is still weighing up future challenges rather than reliving past glories. In December, he celebrated his 20th year as an international player.
Enjoying his job has been even easier since Stokes and McCullum overhauled England’s entire approach and, with it, their results.
Stripping away fear of failure and replacing it with a desire to entertain has carried the team to nine wins in 10 Tests, creating a buzz that is already rippling round the wider cricket world.
Anderson played his part in series wins against New Zealand and South Africa at home last summer, plus victory against India in the delayed fifth Test of the 2021 series, before taking eight wickets in their first two victories in Pakistan during a historic 3-0 series clean sweep.
England squad for New Zealand Test tour
Ben Stokes (captain), James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Will Jacks, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Matthew Potts, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Olly Stone.
Newcomers and veterans alike have been energised by the attacking approach, which will see them take on New Zealand next in a two-Test series in February and Anderson anticipates a blockbuster series when they bid to reclaim the Ashes against Australia later this year.
“It’s exciting to be in this team. Whoever we play it’s going to be fun, we’re going to give it a good crack and Australia in the summer could just be incredible,” he said.
“I can’t see them doing anything but going toe-to-toe to be honest. I think they’re going to fight fire with fire and that’s going to make it so explosive and exciting.
“There is something wrong with you as a player if you didn’t enjoy this way we’re playing. It’s constantly thinking and talking about the game in a positive way so, yes, it has reinvigorated me.”
Anderson praised Stokes’ leadership and conviction, citing his insistence that a weary bowling group be excused an audience with Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Shariz after a late invitation in Rawalpindi last month.
“He just went, ‘the bowlers aren’t going, they need to recover’. He’s strong enough to do that,” Anderson said.
“I’ve always had him down as a lead-by-example guy. But he is just incredible, the emotional intelligence around the group, managing the players. I didn’t know he had this side to him.
“There was definitely a moment when I thought that could be it [for my England career]. There was a bit of anger and disappointment [at being left out of the tour to the West Indies].
“I was just trying to make sense of it and not make any rash decisions.
“I’m not the complete bowler. I’ve not played the perfect game or bowled the perfect over.
“There are always things I think I can iron out. I want to be best at everything I do; if I’m rubbish at something I’ll just give it up.”
New Zealand vs England schedule
- 1st Test (pink ball, Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui) – February 16-20
- 2nd Test (Wellington) – February 24-28