Ben Stokes admits he faces Ashes selection nightmare as Stuart Broad and James Anderson make timeless reminder

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Ben Stokes has hailed the performances of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, saying he doesn’t “want to think about” the prospect of the two veterans calling time on their careers.

Broad and Anderson shared eight of New Zealand’s ten second-innings wickets as the timeless duo reminded everyone of their importance to this new-age England set-up.

“Seeing them running in with three lions on their chest is great,” said Stokes. “And I don’t really want to think too far ahead to when they might call time on their careers. You don’t want to think about that, you just want to keep thinking about them taking wickets and seeing Stuart Broad bowl spells like he did last night.”

Broad, who along with Anderson was dropped for England’s tour of the West Indies last March, ripped through New Zealand’s top order under the lights at Mount Maunganui on day three in a spell for the ages, a timely reminder of his talents with the 36-year-old’s position in the XI no longer secured with Anderson a lock, the emergence of Ollie Robinson and the desire for a third, high-pace seamer, in Mark Wood or Jofra Archer.

“It’s great to have so many world class players to choose from,” Stokes said with a nod towards the upcoming Ashes summer. “It’s probably going to end up in a selection nightmare at some point. But I’d rather have that for myself as captain and [Brendon McCullum] as coach…I don’t like to look too far ahead but I think we’ll have a good crop of players to choose from.”

Stokes has already spoken of his desire to have eight fit seamers for the Ashes with England likely to rotate their fast bowlers throughout the series, with Broad and Anderson, who made history this Test as they passed Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath’s record for the most wickets taken in tandem, likely to play a key role throughout.

He added: “Those boys will bowl all day for you but look at the way you see them running around in the field. After that 10-over spell last night, every time Broady got a ball hit past him he sprinted after it all the way to the boundary. Jimmy’s always done that.

“Not only did they do brilliantly in this game with the ball, but last night I said in the dressing room we’ve got a 40-year-old and a 36-year-old to set the standard of what we’re about in the field in terms of energy.

“When they’ve got a ball in their hand, with how many games they’ve won for England and probably will do going forward, they’re setting a great example not only for us in the dressing room but for anybody who wants to have a long career in professional sport.”

Stokes also took a moment to celebrate overtaking head coach Brendon McCullum’s record for hitting the most sixes in Test cricket. Stokes is famously blasé when it comes to records, but allowed himself a moment to savour this one.

“I did know I was on that one for a long time,” Stokes laughed. “I was blowing that one over [the boundary] because I didn’t think it was going to go. When it went over, it was like I picked Brendon up off my shoulder and dropped him.

“He said ‘well done’ and I said, ‘[Harry] Brook will probably break it in the next 20 games the way he is going’. I can’t see it being around too long if he is in the side, which I imagine he will be for a long time going forward.”