How Will Vice Captain James Anderson Influence England During The Ashes Series?

The Ashes

With Ben Stokes all but out of the 2017/18 Ashes tour, the onus will be on James Anderson to help inspire England to a famous victory Down Under. Yorkshire star batsman Joe Root is relishing his still-relatively new role as captain and Anderson should be able to provide some invaluable experience as his deputy. At 35 years old, he has been there and done it all and it would take a brave man to back against England’s all-time leading wicket-taker.

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His tally of 506 Test match wickets is nothing short of outstanding. Stuart Broad, also a dead cert to feature in Australia this winter, is the next best English bowler with 388 wickets. And whilst both are now on the wrong side of 30, England head coach Trevor Bayliss will still feel confident that these two men will be key to their chances of success during the entire Ashes campaign. Moeen Ali will be influential as well but you’d have to trust fast bowlers over spin on Australian pitches. Only time will tell but Anderson still boasts the talent to make a positive impact.

Anderson Over Cook?

Interestingly, Bayliss opted for Anderson to serve as Root’s backup instead of former captain Alistair Cook. During his tenure as captain, Cook led England for a record 59 Test matches – winning 24 of those encounters. Tellingly, Cook’s personal batting statistics are very similar, whether he is captain or not. He averaged 46.53 in those 59 Tests as captain. Without the burden of captaincy, he averaged 46.36 in 81 Tests. Some players raise their game when handed the responsibility but it didn’t affect Cook either way, and Bayliss will be trusting the England star to find his best form this winter.

Cook’s position is by no means cemented. His score of 70 runs in England’s final warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI has done his chances of starting no harm at all but it would be foolish to get too carried away, especially after Bayliss’ comments regarding runs in warm-up games. His form in the build-up to this series will be of some concern to Bayliss and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the England coach look elsewhere. That too may be a reason why he opted for Anderson to serve as vice-captain.

Even At 35, He’s Still Got It

Anderson silenced the doubters with a 7-42 performance against the West Indies back in September and punters will be expecting big things from the England man this winter. Taking seven wickets is impressive but the manner in which Anderson took apart the lower order was devastating. The 35-year-old missed out on England’s final warm-up game through illness but he should be ready to go for the opening Test match of the series at The Gabba, Brisbane. England’s odds are 15/8 to win the urn this year – although their record in Australia isn’t exactly great.

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Michael Atherton, an England cricketing legend, believes that Anderson is able to make an impact on the field but his influence in the dressing room and during training might be the most important factor of all. Writing for The Times, Atherton refers to the tough conditions Down Under and suggests that Anderson can provide invaluable insight to the younger members of Bayliss’ squad. Ben Foakes, receiving his first England call-up, will almost certainly be nervous and, although the second-choice wicketkeeper may not take to the field, Anderson will do his best to make sure that he is mentally prepared if needed.

Time To Sign Off With A Win

Only the sixth player in the history of this great sport to surpass 500 wickets, Anderson will go down as one of the very best. However, he would love nothing more than to rewrite the history books once again this winter. Anderson knows how to deal with the pressure of an Ashes series and he could be England’s difference maker if he gets back to full fitness. This may be his last Ashes tour and what better way to sign off with a stunning victory? Australia have already started a war of words but Root was very quick to shut those comments down – answering back on the cricket pitch is the best way of responding.

Like Atherton, Australian great Shane Warne reckons that Anderson will have a key role to play this winter but he believes that the 35-year-old can still blow the Wallabies away. Only time will tell on that front but Anderson certainly has the skillset to lead by example and an England win could be on the cards if he finds his best form. Backing against Australia on home soil would be foolish so let’s see how England fare in the opening Test. An excellent performance from Anderson may set the tone for the remainder of the Ashes series.

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