London: England have named an unchanged team for the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval starting Thursday, with record wicket-taker James Anderson keeping his place in the side.
Anderson’s 689 Test wickets are the most taken by any fast bowler, with only spinners Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Shane Warne (708) ahead of the veteran seamer.
But in this series Anderson, 41 on Sunday, has taken just four wickets in three Tests at a costly average of 76.75 apiece.
Nevertheless, he has kept his place in an attack where both Mark Wood and Chris Woakes have been passed fit.
Australia have already retained the Ashes at 2-1 up with one to play following last week’s rain-marred draw at Old Trafford.
But a win for Ben Stokes’s men in London would deny their arch-rivals a first Ashes series victory in England since 2001.
No plans to retire
Anderson insisted in a recent newspaper column he has no intention of retiring and plans to continue a Test career that already spans 20 years so long as he is wanted by the England set-up.
And England captain Stokes, speaking at a pre-match press conference at The Oval on Wednesday, said Anderson was still part of his plans.
“Jimmy Anderson is the greatest fast bowler to play the game,” he said.
“He’s not had the impact and the wickets he’d have liked to in this series, he’s come under a bit of flak, but he’s a quality performer.”
Stokes, meanwhile also paid tribute to Stuart Broad, Anderson’s longstanding new-ball colleague.
The Nottinghamshire seamer is the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes and is now about to appear in his sixth Test in a row this season, having featured in the off-match against Ireland at Lord’s.
“At 37 years old it’s testament to the work and effort he puts in,” said Stokes.
“It’s amazing. It was always going to be hard for one bowler to play every game this series but he’s been incredible for us. He’s been very good at coming on with the ball and changing the game.”
England team: Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley, Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (capt), Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Stuart Broad, James Anderson