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'I just can't see him stopping' - Stokes on Anderson becoming No. 1 again

"Every time he turns out there, he's one of the main guys you throw the ball to when you feel like you need a wicket," Stokes says

Ben Stokes and James Anderson plot their tactics as England toil in the field, Pakistan vs England, 1st Test, Rawalpindi, 2nd day, December 2, 2022

Stokes on Anderson - "He's just relentless with everything that he does"  •  AFP/Getty Images

Ben Stokes says he can't see James Anderson stopping anytime soon after the 40-year-old topped the latest ICC men's Test rankings.
Anderson will earn his 179th cap on Friday as England named an unchanged team for the 2nd Test against New Zealand at Wellington. It was at the Basin Reserve 15 years ago that Lancashire quick was recalled to the team aged 26, accompanying Stuart Broad for the first time and becoming the consistent force he is today.
A first trip to the summit came in May 2016, then again in 2018. Now, off the back of seven wickets at Mount Maunganui to help England go 1-0 up in the series with their 10th victory out of 11, which also dropped his average under 26 for the first time since his second cap, he becomes the oldest player (40 years and 207 days) to assume top spot since Australia legspinner Clarrie Grimmett in 1936.
It might be a short-lived time at the top, with R Ashwin trailing by just two ranking points. Though the captain does not believe he is bothered either way.
"No," responded Stokes when asked if the news brought a smile to Anderson's face. "I don't think he'll be that fussed by it, to be honest - he'll just keep doing his thing."
Nevertheless, Stokes feels the new status is simply aligning with what the dressing room and the rest of English cricket feel. That Anderson, for a while, has been a standout in his field. With 682 wickets to his name so far, there is scope for plenty more.
"Albeit him being 40, I just can't see him stopping," Stokes said. "Every time he turns out there, he's one of the main guys you throw the ball to when you feel like you need a wicket. He's just relentless with everything that he does.
"We're very lucky to have him. Rightfully so he's back at the top. I know sometimes those rankings don't mean much to people, but in our opinion, he has been one of the best, if not the best, for longer than what these rankings say."
The sentiment was shared by New Zealand captain Tim Southee. Aged 34 himself, Southee is all too aware of the toll bowling takes on the body. And yet he too tips Anderson to continue on into the future.
"He's phenomenal and has been for a long period of time," Southee said. "To have played as many Test matches as he's had is phenomenal on its own.
"He doesn't look like he's slowing down any stage. I've thoroughly enjoyed watching it from afar and any time you play against them it's a great chance to catch up and talk to them.
"To see a 40-year-old sitting at the top of the charts is pretty impressive."

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo