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England all-rounder Ben Stokes has “still got his sights” on playing in the fifth Ashes Test despite a side strain, according to James Anderson.

Stokes, 30, suffered the injury to his left side during the drawn fourth Test in Sydney.

He will travel to Hobart and be assessed before the day-night series finale begins on Friday.

“He’s already saying that it feels a bit better,” fast bowler Anderson told his Tailenders podcast.

Anderson added: “Even though we’re 3-0 down. It would be very easy for him to say ‘I’ve pulled my side, I’ll go home and get it sorted’.

“He’s still got his sights on playing that fifth Test.”

Stokes suffered the injury while bowling during Australia’s first innings, but remained on the field for that – and the hosts’ second innings – so he would not have to bat lower than his regular number five spot.

“It shows what playing for this team means to him,” said Anderson.

“If you’ve never pulled your side, you don’t know what pain like that is like. Every breath, you feel it. There are certain movements that are really painful.”

England will definitely be without wicketkeeper Jos Buttler because of a broken finger, while Jonny Bairstow’s thumb injury is due to be checked too.

They will, however, go into the final Test knowing they have avoided the prospect of a third 5-0 defeat in Australia in 15 years.

Last man Anderson survived the final over of the Sydney Test, bowled by Steve Smith, to see England earn a draw on 270-9 after they had been set an unlikely 388 to win.

After a number of sub-standard batting performances in the opening three Tests, Bairstow made England’s first century of the series in Sydney, while Stokes made a half-century in each innings and Zak Crawley scored 77 in the second.

England’s preparations at the beginning of the tour, already limited through a combination of Covid-19 restrictions and players arriving late from the T20 World Cup, were further restricted by bad weather.

“We had no cricket leading into this,” added 39-year-old Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker. “Imagine what we could have achieved if we’d had two or three first-class games before the series.

“I don’t want to make it sound like an excuse because we should have played better.

“The preparation has not been great and it is starting to show that guys are getting used to the conditions. It is frustrating that we are now showing what we can do.”

‘I’ve got this, spin is my absolute niche’

Anderson earned England a draw in the fourth Test by defying Smith’s leg-spin in the final over of the match.

He arrived at the crease with two overs to go and, after Stuart Broad saw off Nathan Lyon, Anderson was left to face Smith.

On the Tailenders podcast, Anderson described how he did it.

The whole time Jonny Bairstow was at the crease I thought ‘we’ve got this’. It wasn’t until he got out that I thought I’d have to bat.

I’ve been in that situation a lot before. The best place to be in that situation is out in the middle, because that’s where you’re in control.

There was a moment when the umpires said it was too dark to bowl seam. It was then I thought ‘I’ve got this. Spin is my absolute niche’. I absolutely love facing spin.

I felt quietly confident going out there. If Pat Cummins had been bowling you’d have seen a lot more of the whites of my eyes.

I was thinking clearly. I knew it was only spin I’d face. I even took off my chest pad and armguard to feel more comfortable and so the ball wouldn’t bounce anywhere to the men around the bat.

The minute I got out there Stuart Broad was telling me what to do – ‘get a big stride in, smother the ball, don’t let the bounce beat your bat’.

I was like ‘it’s alright mate, I’ve played before, it’s fine’.

Five balls from Steve Smith, he landed them really well, but the sixth – I don’t think Steve would begrudge me using the word ‘pie’.

When I shook his hand I said ‘what was that?’ He said ‘the pressure got to me’.

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