James Anderson will encourage a vibrant and opinionated England dressing-room as he continues his role as Joe Root’s vice-captain.
England announced on Tuesday that Anderson, Root’s deputy in Ben Stokes’ absence for this winter’s Ashes, will take on the same responsibility for two Tests against New Zealand.
Stokes was unavailable for the 4-0 defeat in Australia, while he waited to discover if he would be charged over a late-night fracas outside a Bristol bar last September.
He is back in the ranks after indicating a not-guilty plea to a charge of affray at Bristol Magistrates Court last month – but the day after Stokes’ trial date was set for August 6, a direct clash with next summer’s showpiece Lord’s Test against India, England announced Anderson will remain as vice-captain.
The evergreen seamer insists the extra responsibility changes little about his demeanour – because he embraces leadership duties in any case.
Nonetheless, in his current guise, he hopes to hear more “chirp” from the youngsters in a ‘quiet team’.
Asked if he enjoyed his experience in Australia, Anderson confirmed he did – although standing in when Root was laid low by a nasty bug on the final day in Sydney was not necessarily top of his wish-list.
“Until that last day when he was ill, yes!” he said, adding he will worry about stepping directly into Root’s shoes again only if he has to.
“I’ll cross that bridge if and when it happens.
“I know I can play it down a bit and say I didn’t like it, but (I do like) that responsibility – it’s the same as taking the new ball.”
It can encompass addressing press and broadcasters, of course, as well as fellow players.
“I enjoy trying to help the team – whether that’s defending the lads in front of the cameras … trying to fend off Geoffrey Boycott, whatever it might be, I enjoy each challenge that comes my way.”
Anderson, his long-time new-ball partner Stuart Broad and former captain Alastair Cook are all obvious go-to colleagues if Root needs support.
England’s all-time leading wicket-taker added: “I think when you’ve got a group of senior players like we have, it’s down to all of us to help this team progress and lead from the front.
“That’s what I’ve done the last few years – trying to lead the attack, do my job on the field – and if I can do that I hope I can pull a few of the guys along with me.”
That includes several newer members of a team with significantly varying international experience.
“It’s a group effort, a team, we need everybody’s input … and we need the younger guys to start chirping up a bit more.
“That’s what we want to do as a team – get to a point where everyone has their say.
“We’ve got an open and honest dressing-room.”
Anderson confirms the current line-up is not always especially vocal.
“It probably is one of the quieter ones,” he said.
“I think the Ashes wouldn’t have helped in that respect, because that’s as pressurised an environment (as) you can get.
“We’ve got areas we need to improve – and we know that.”
Honesty on that score is non-negotiable for Anderson – because a strong New Zealand team will expose any weaknesses too.
“It’s not a huge preparation period for us,” he said.
“So we’ve got to do as best we can in the next week and get up to speed – because it’s going to be just as tough as Australia was.”