England captain Ben Stokes said veteran seam bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad were setting the standard for his team after they helped the tourists to a crushing victory over New Zealand in the first Test on Sunday.
Although the “Bazball” style of play that has taken England to 10 wins in 11 Tests under Stokes and coach Brendon “Baz” McCullum relies predominantly on aggressive batting, they also need to take wickets to back it up.
Broad took out four of New Zealand’s top order in a dazzling spell on the third evening at Bay Oval on Saturday and Anderson also claimed four victims on Sunday to mop up the tail and complete the rout.
“Having James Anderson and Stuart Broad in your side ... does make captaincy a lot easier, because you just throw them the ball and they’ll probably get a wicket for you,” Stokes told reporters.
“But not only were they brilliant this whole game with the ball but ... we’ve got a 40-year-old and a 36-year-old setting the standard of what we’re about in the field in terms of energy.” In helping England to a 1-0 lead in the two match series, the seam duo also surpassed Australia’s Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne as the most prolific bowling partnership in Test cricket history, with 1,009 wickets from 113 matches together.
“They’re setting a great example for anyone who wants to look at having a long career in professional sport,” Stokes added.
“Seeing them with three Lions on their chests is great and I don’t really want to think too far ahead as to when they might call time on their careers.”
Stokes made a bit of cricketing history himself during the match, hoisting a Scott Kuggeleijn delivery over the fine leg boundary to supplant coach McCullum as the most prolific scorer of sixes in Test cricket with his 108th maximum. “I will say that I did know that I was on that one for a long time,” he said. “I was blowing that one over because I didn’t know if it was gonna go or not. But when I saw it go over, it was just like I just picked Brendon up and dropped him on the floor.” Stokes said he did not think his record would last for long with young batsmen such as England’s Harry Brook playing with such confidence.
“Not only have I got an unbelievable bowling attack to be able to captain; we’ve also got a seriously skilled and very brave batting lineup,” he said.