James Anderson and Ben Stokes. (AFP Photo)
MANCHESTER: James Anderson says Ben Stokes is the best England all-rounder he has ever played with, surpassing Andrew Flintoff as he reaches new heights.
In his latest command performance, Stokes scored 176 and 78 not out and took three wickets during England’s 113-run win in the second Test against the West Indies at Old Trafford.
The 29-year-old’s man-of-the-match effort helped England level the three-match series at 1-1 ahead of Friday’s decider at Old Trafford.
It also meant Stokes replaced West Indies captain Jason Holder as the world’s top-ranked Test all-rounder.
Stokes has been in superb Test form since the start of 2019, averaging over 55 with the bat and under 29 with the ball.
Veteran paceman Anderson now rates him even more highly than his former Lancashire and England team-mate Flintoff, who was also a pace-bowling all-rounder.
“The fact that he (Stokes) could get into any team as a batsman without his bowling or fielding speaks volumes,” said Anderson.
“His bowling is getting better and better each time he goes out there and he could get into a lot of teams’ bowling attacks.”
“To have that talent in our team and to be able to watch it first-hand is amazing,” added Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker.
“He’s certainly the best all-rounder I’ve ever played with and he’s becoming the best all-rounder that England’s ever had and there’s no reason why he can’t go on and be even better.”
Anderson was rested from the series-squaring victory over the West Indies during a busy spell of six Tests in seven weeks, including three against Pakistan.
But with 587 wickets from 152 Tests behind him, Anderson — who turns 38 later this month — said of being rested: “I can deal with it a lot better now than a few years ago.
“Looking at the bigger picture I want to be around when we go to Australia for the next Ashes (next year) so to be able to do that, you’ve probably got to do things slightly differently.
“It might mean missing the odd game here and there to make sure that I’m in the best possible situation.”