England bowler James Anderson says “natural leader” Ben Stokes is the best captain of his 23-year career.
Anderson has been captained by Ashes champion Michael Vaughan, Sir Andrew Strauss and Sir Alastair Cook since his first Test cap in 2003.
Stokes replaced Joe Root as England Test captain last summer and won 10 of his first 12 games in charge.
“I think he’s been on the scene so far,” Anderson said.
“I really can’t fault it. I think everyone knows he’s a leader, the way he trains, whether it’s in the gym or catching, batting or bowling – the way he runs his business, he’s the ultimate professional. .
“The way he plays, he leaves everything out there. So he’s a natural leader.”
Asked if Stokes was the best captain he’s ever played under, Anderson paused before replying: “Yes. It’s hard to say in a short amount of time, but he’s had an amazing start. .
“I think he’s completely different from any captain I’ve ever played with and I really like it.
“For me, it’s the finer details, not just his tactical mind on the field, but his emotional intelligence off the field and how he talks to everyone on the team.
“If he needs to put his arm around someone or fire someone, he has a really good way of doing that. And the way he talks to the team is also really good. So I’m very impressed.”
Playing the “three or four out of five” test is realistic
Under Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, England have excelled in a bold and expansive style of play and will face Australia this summer with the goal of winning the Ashes series for the first time since 2015.
Despite a minor groin strain at the County Championships for Lancashire last week, Anderson hopes to be fully fit in first Test June 16 in Edgbaston.
However, with five Ashes Tests in just over six weeks, the 40-year-old expects some rotation between bowlers during the series.
“I think it’s a little bit optimistic that all five will play,” he said. “I think three, not just for myself – if you say three out of five for any bowler, I think that’s probably more realistic and sensible. Four would be great.
“The thing is, you have to take it game by game. If we’ve played 250 games on the pitch in five days, then you might have a break. It might rain and we can knock them out cheap.
“You have to play it by ear. But, yeah, actually, three or four out of five is more realistic than five.”
No matter how many games he has played, Anderson believes that if England are at their best they can reclaim the urn that has been in the Australian’s hands since the 2017-18 season.
England’s leading wicket-taker added: “It’s pretty relaxed, we’re trying to enjoy ourselves, we’re trying to entertain people, take positive choices.
“If you look at our team, if we play our best with that mentality, I don’t think anybody can handle us. So yeah, I think we can win.”
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