England v West Indies: New faces given 'freedom' to express themselves at Lord's

BEN STOKES paid a glowing tribute to the outgoing James Anderson ahead of today’s first Test against the West Indies – but was equally keen to talk up some of the newer faces in the dressing room.

Describing Anderson as “the whole package” and “an incredible ambassador for fast bowling”, Stokes during Tuesday’s press conference at Lord’s, as the 41-year-old prepares to make a farewell appearance after a record-breaking run of 187 Tests and 700 wickets.

Debutant Jamie Smith, from Surrey, replaces Ben Foakes behind the wicket, while county team-mate and fellow newcomer Gus Atkinson takes a role in the new-look seam attack. Shoaib Bashir replaces Somerset team-mate Jack Leach as the national team’s No 1 spinner.

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Both Smith and Bashir have been fast-tracked quicker at international level than they have been in domestic cricket, but Stokes is undeterred about following his instincts with the pair.

OLD AND THE NEW: England's Shoaib Bashir (left) pictured alongside James Anderson during a nets session at Lord's Picture: Steven Paston/PAOLD AND THE NEW: England's Shoaib Bashir (left) pictured alongside James Anderson during a nets session at Lord's Picture: Steven Paston/PA
OLD AND THE NEW: England's Shoaib Bashir (left) pictured alongside James Anderson during a nets session at Lord's Picture: Steven Paston/PA

“In an ideal world, you’d love for the players that you’ve picked in the Test team to also be playing those roles back for their counties,” he said. “But come (Wednesday), come the rest of the week and also throughout the rest of the summer, out there (on the pitch) is where it’s going to count.

“We give everyone the freedom to go out and express themselves, whether they’ve had a lot of cricket on their back or not.

“Jamie and Bash are here, obviously in a different role than what they have been doing for the counties, but I don’t see that being too much of an issue because they’re both class players. We’re very excited by what Jamie can offer to this team.

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"He fits in perfectly with everything that we want and he’s deserved his place by runs alone, I think.

GOT HIM: Harry Brook takes a catch during practice at Lord's yesterday alongside Zak Crawley and fellow Yorkshire player Joe Root (right). Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty ImagesGOT HIM: Harry Brook takes a catch during practice at Lord's yesterday alongside Zak Crawley and fellow Yorkshire player Joe Root (right). Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
GOT HIM: Harry Brook takes a catch during practice at Lord's yesterday alongside Zak Crawley and fellow Yorkshire player Joe Root (right). Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

“Bash is 6ft 4in and has a lot of individual traits that we feel that we can bring out. He’s got a very high ceiling and with more games under his belt we’re going to have a seriously, seriously good bowler on our hands.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.”