Ben Stokes has no worries over James Anderson in fifth Ashes Test

England captain Ben Stokes had no qualms about thrusting James Anderson into this week’s Ashes decider, insisting the veteran remains “the greatest fast bowler to play the game”.

Stokes named an unchanged XI at the Kia Oval, where his side will be attempting to draw the series 2-2 and spoil Australia’s party, keeping faith with a player who turns 41 on day four.

Anderson’s longevity remains jaw-dropping, but he has struggled to make an impression this summer with just four wickets at 76.75. He has made it clear he is not planning on retirement any time soon and will continue to be available as long as he is wanted.

And Stokes, who overlooked the claims of the up-and-coming Josh Tongue and Ollie Robinson, is more than happy to have him.

“James Anderson is the greatest fast bowler to play the game and he’s still looking as good as he was two years ago,” said the skipper.

“Although he’s not had the impact or the wickets he would have liked to in this series, he’s a quality bowler and quality performer. To have nearly 700 Test wickets is phenomenal, and to be able to do it all around the world as well.”

Stokes also paid tribute to his other veteran seamer, Stuart Broad, who has defied all expectations and a draining schedule to play six Tests in a row this summer and tops the Ashes charts with 18 victims.

Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad is the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes (John Walton/PA)

“It was always going to be hard for one bowler to play every game this series but he’s been incredible for us,” said Stokes.

“He’s put in some incredible performances throughout the Test matches, but also been very good at coming on with the ball and changing the game numerous times, which is something he’s done throughout his whole career.

“He’s the leading wicket-taker and it’s very hard to look past someone like that. At 37 years old that’s testament to how much work he puts in off the field to keep turning out for England on the field.”

Ben Stokes backed Pat Cummins as Australia captain

Ben Stokes backed Pat Cummins as Australia captain (John Walton/PA)

While Stokes is eager to ensure Australia end their tour on a bum note, he had a word of support for his opposite number.

Pat Cummins has seen his captaincy come under scrutiny after defeat at Headingley and a three-day thrashing at Old Trafford before rain spared Australia, with some critics Down Under suggesting it is time for him to pass on the mantle.

“I’m not sure why someone would say he should give it up,” he said.

“I don’t know who has made those comments but I think he’s done a great job for Australian cricket. It’s probably a little bit unwarranted from whoever said that – and that’s coming from an Englishman.”

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