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James Anderson is raring to go ahead of the series decider in Auckland
James Anderson is adamant he will not be thinking about a looming personal milestone as he bids to lead England to a series-clinching victory in the third and final Test with New Zealand.
Anderson, the established pace spearhead of Alastair Cook’s attack, requires just five further wickets to become only the fourth Englishman to reach 300 scalps in the premier form of the game.
The Lancashire seamer would be understandably proud to accomplish the feat, yet insists his focus in Auckland will be on the team’s needs – rather than the prospect of following in the footsteps of Sir Ian Botham, Bob Willis and Fred Trueman.
“It would be a huge achievement,” said Anderson when asked for his thoughts on the 300-wicket landmark.
“I’m aware of it, but it’s something – once I get into the game – I won’t be thinking about.
“It’s obviously a decider (following rain-affected draws in Dunedin and Wellington) so we’ll be looking at it as a very important game. We want to win the series.
“Hopefully we can bring our best form. We’re going to have to perform very well to compete with a very strong New Zealand team.”
Anderson has been made to work hard for his seven breakthroughs on this tour to date.
However, he rejects the notion that New Zealand’s pitches have proven too lifeless, pointing to the amount of time lost to rain in the drawn encounters at University Oval and Basin Reserve.
Rather than bemoaning conditions that many have suggested favour batsmen, Anderson – together with fellow frontline seamers Steven Finn and Stuart Broad – is doing all he can to remain effective.
“Test pitches around the world are generally quite flat and you’ve got to work hard for your victories. It’s no different here,” he explained.
“If we hadn’t had rain in the first two games, there would probably have been results. So you can’t say these are not result pitches … you’ve just got to work hard as a bowler to get 20 wickets in a game.
“You have to find different ways of getting people out. You can’t always just steam in and try and roll sides over. You’ve got to use other skills and that’s what we’ve been trying to do this trip.”
The 30-year-old also played down concerns over his fitness, which arose after he was seen stretching his back at regular intervals during the second Test.
With a maximum of five days of action to come prior to a well-deserved break, Anderson is ready to graft away once again in Auckland and is motivated by the prospect of a second successive Test series win on foreign soil.
“I feel okay. The rain (in Wellington) probably helped in the end, getting the extra day off. It gave my body an extra bit of rest,” he said.
“When you’ve got just one Test left, you always manage to find something a little bit extra in the tank – knowing we have got a few weeks off when we get home.
“If we did manage to come away with a win, it would be a fantastic winter for English cricket throughout all forms of the game.”
One of the men standing in the way of Anderson and his fellow bowlers will be former New Zealand captain Ross Taylor.
The middle-order batsman is gradually rediscovering his form after his much-chronicled disagreements with coach Mike Hesson, and exile for the tour of South Africa at the start of this year.
Taylor believes England will have anticipated the level of resistance they have encountered from their hosts thus far.
“It’s a characteristic of most New Zealand teams. I’d be very surprised if we’ve caught them on the hop,” he said.
Taylor also acknowledged how significant victory would be for a Black Caps side that has experienced recent struggles in the Test arena.
“This is a position we haven’t been in for a while … if we can play to our potential we have a chance,” he added.
“Hesson and (captain) Brendon (McCullum) have been very positive in the way they are talking to everyone.”
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