England to stand by Anderson as Root warns: Question Jimmy at your peril!

By Ben Spratt 12 August 2020 1
England to stand by Anderson as Root warns: Question Jimmy at your peril!

James Anderson is set to keep his place in the England team despite a disappointing performance in the first Test against Pakistan last week.

England head to Southampton with a 1-0 lead in the three-match series despite frustration for Anderson at Old Trafford.

The 38-year-old seamer - closing in on 600 Test wickets - returned underwhelming match figures of 1-97 and subsequently fielded questions on whether he was set to retire.

Anderson insisted that was not an option, though, and he has the support of captain Joe Root, who intends to keep faith with England's record Test wicket-taker.

"Jimmy's likely to play," Root told reporters on Wednesday ahead of the second Test, which starts on Thursday. "I can't tell you who else is likely to play.

"The only other player I can guarantee if he's fit and well and doesn't get food poisoning tonight is probably me."

Pressed on Anderson getting an immediate opportunity to bounce back, Root replied: "Wouldn't you give him the opportunity with nearly 600 wickets under his belt?"

The captain, who welcomed "very exciting" Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson to the squad, revealed he had a private conversation with Anderson during the Old Trafford Test.

Having told the veteran to "remember how good a player you are", Root offered a firm defence of his most senior star.

"I think to question Jimmy's ability and his record... do that at your own peril," the skipper said.

"There's a reason he's got so many wickets over such a long period of time. It's because he's a consistent performer. I don't think it'll be long before he's back in the wickets big time.

"It would be very silly for us to write someone like Jimmy off. He's still as dedicated as ever, working very hard at his game, and looking very good in practice.

"I don't think it'll be long before he's got another five-fer next to his name."

He added: "It just shows that even the greats of the game and the greats of English cricket still have those days where it doesn't always come as naturally to you, it doesn't always feel the easiest game in the world.

"You know it can be a struggle sometimes. That's just the way it goes.

"I think with Jimmy, you know it won't be long before he's right back at the top, at the peak of his powers, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing him perform again this week."

Anderson's long-time colleague Stuart Broad had a more prominent role in proceedings with figures of 6-91 in Manchester, yet his send-off of Yasir Shah saw him fined by the match referee, his father Chris.

Root said: "It was disappointing for that to happen. It just shows the frustrations that Test cricket can throw at you sometimes.

"You know how much it means to Stuart, and over the past couple of weeks he's made it clear how much it means for him to play for England and do well. That probably just slightly boiled over.

"I'm sure that was a frosty conversation with his dad at some point last week. But he'll look to move on. He knows he's got to set an example and I can't see that being a major talking point dragging over into this week.

"Ultimately, we want to make sure none of our players are missing games through avoidable incidents like that."

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