Mar 042014
 

England fast bowler James Anderson is determined to hit the ground running for Lancashire this season and prove his worth after the dismal Ashes whitewash.

The 31-year-old was out of sorts with the ball Down Under – taking just 14 wickets during the 5-0 rout as England’s reputation was decimated in front of jubilant Australian crowds.

Anderson, who is England’s all-time leading international wicket-taker in all formats, told Sky Sports News: “It hurts. We went over there with expectations high and failed to deliver.

“It’s opened my eyes and I’ve come back to Lancashire and started the pre-season. I just want to work as hard as I can to get my form back to where it should be.

“My job now is to try and get as fit as possible and take my bowling to where I want it to be. I have a few games with Lancashire – maybe four or five Championship games with them. All I’m looking to do is take wickets.

“At the moment, the Test team doesn’t have a coach so that’s the first thing that’s going to be different when we get there at the start of the Test series (against Sri Lanka, beginning on May 20).

“The winter really hurt us and I’m sure everyone has gone away and worked at their games so they can come back with their counties and make people realise we’re worthy of our places in the England team.

“It will kind of be a fresh start for us, I guess. I’ve got a few games for Lancashire that I really want to focus on and prove myself.”

Anderson was rested from the ongoing ODI tour of the West Indies, where England face their hosts in a decider on Wednesday that you can see live on Sky Sports 2 at 1pm.

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Dec 272013
 
Batsmen's advice aids England bowlers

By Rob Barnett

James Anderson revealed that England’s outstanding bowling today came as a consequence of talking to their batsmen about how best to strike on the MCG pitch.

Anderson and Stuart Broad shared six scalps as Australia slumped to 164 for nine at stumps on day two, a first-innings deficit of 91.

The opening bowlers were well supported by Tim Bresnan, Ben Stokes and Monty Panesar in a consistently miserly display that was richly rewarded.

Anderson told ecb.co.uk: “As a bowling group, we spoke to the batsmen, trying to find out what the best way to go about taking wickets on that pitch is.

“They just said ‘if you stay patient and keep hitting the right areas, it’s difficult to score’.

James Anderson ousts Michael Clarke with a ball that deceived the home captain, which was “a surprise at the time” to the seamer

“I thought we set the right fields today, we stuck to the plans and got rewards for it.”

England started the day on 226 for six but could add just 29 as Mitchell Johnson struck thrice in his first three overs for a five-wicket haul.

In the reply, aside from Chris Rogers’ battling 61 at the top of the order and in-form Brad Haddin’s breezy 43 not out, Australia’s scoring was severely limited by their opponents.

“It reversed a little bit. The odd one seamed,” Anderson added.

“There wasn’t a huge amount of movement and it was all about staying patient throughout the day. And I thought Cookie (captain Alastair Cook) set some really good fields and made it really difficult for them to score.

“I think the biggest thing was sticking to it the whole day and being patient enough to get rewards for it.”

Perhaps the moment of the day was Anderson bowling home captain Michael Clarke, who shouldered arms.

“(It was) a surprise at the time,” Anderson admitted.

“I was just trying to again stick to the plan and bowl in the right area and, whether it nipped back or swung back a little bit, it did a bit to take the off stump, which was nice.”

Anderson is refusing to get ahead of himself despite England being on top for the first time during a series in which Australia hold an unassailable 3-0 lead.

“We know we’ve still got a long way to go in this game, but we’re in a really good position,” he said.

“I think if we can knock them over in the morning quite quickly, when we get to bat again we’re going to have to get stuck in. And it might be slow going at times and a bit turgid but we’re just going to have to try to battle through and see where we can get.”

Dec 272013
 
Rogers admits Australia's failings

By Rob Barnett

Chris Rogers conceded that Australia had their “worst day of the series” today at the MCG.

Rogers’ valiant 61 was the hosts’ sole fifty in a stumps score of 164 for nine that puts them 91 behind on first innings.

Having quickly taken England’s last four wickets this morning to dismiss them for 255, Rogers offered almost lone resistance until in-form Brad Haddin’s smooth 43 not out.

Rogers cited the tourists’ impressive attack today, something also recognised by James Anderson who made three important breakthroughs.

Rogers, part of a side with an unassailable 3-0 Ashes series lead, said: “England are on top (in this Test). I think we’ve had our worst day of the series, but that happens.

“England played very well today. I thought they bowled outstandingly. So we’re up against it but there’s a lot of game to go in this match so we have to fight well for the rest of it.”

Chris Rogers said: "I think sportsmanship is still alive and well," after several England players checked on his blow to the helmet from a nasty Stuart Broad delivery

Alastair Cook was today able to rotate a five-man attack, a feature of this and the last two Tests when all-rounder Ben Stokes has been included.

Stokes struck just before lunch, having Shane Watson caught behind via an inside edge.

“There’s no doubt that Stokes has helped their attack,” Rogers added. “I think he bowled very well today. He got a crucial wicket in Watson.

“He adds to the depth. One of the things we’ve been able to do well with is when England have had to bowl a lot of overs, we’ve been able to capitalise. So having the extra bowler has naturally helped them.”

Rogers, who plays state cricket for Victoria, said his familiarity with batting at the MCG in the Sheffield Shield was of little benefit today.

“It’s hard work. It’s actually not playing the way a lot of the shield wickets have played this year,” he explained.

“Usually it’s been quite good for batting but at the moment, if the bowlers put it in the right area, it’s very hard to score. So a little bit two-paced but you have to adjust and we didn’t adjust very well today.”

While on 16, Rogers was hit on the helmet by a steepling Stuart Broad delivery, which drew blood from near the left-hander’s right ear.

Broad and several England fielders immediately checked on Rogers’ well being, which the batsman appreciated.

“I don’t tend to sledge much so maybe it’s not just coming back round my way but they were pretty good,” he said.

“Whenever you someone get hit in the helmet it’s generally quite serious. So I think sportsmanship is still alive and well.”

Dec 272013
 
Ashes 2013-14: England can finally hold their heads high after James Anderson admits they remain hungry to get something out of tour

Everybody close to him has been saying how it would all come good. But they would say that Anderson has been struggling for lateral movement, off the air or the pitch, and if the reason was a sudden loss of zip, nip, dip and rip then he was in trouble.

He needed a day like yesterday. Three wickets was as good as it has been in this series. The pitch probably suited him, a low, slow old thing which put Australia’s booming batsmen back in their boxes. Anderson found it to his liking and was able to dry up runs for the first time in this Ashes series using what used to be his routine expedient of making them commit a mistake.

ASHES PODCAST: Stephen Brenkley and Tom Collomosse discuss the second day of the Fourth Test. Listen below…

Anderson was visibly relieved. He was smiling, which is not an everyday occurrence. “Days like that have been few and far between on this trip,” he said. “We’re just really hungry to get something out of this tour and I think we showed that.”

He would not have been the grumpy fast bowler had he not had something to complain about. He found it. “I felt terrible today,” he said. “I didn’t have any rhythm. I felt really frustrated at times. I felt all right throughout the series.

“The frustration is not getting the ball swinging as much as we would have thought, and there’s not been as much seam movement as last time here. I feel like I’ve been bowling OK, just not getting the rewards, and I’ve worked really hard in between games: checking my seam position, am I in the right place to swing it, am I hitting the right lengths?” Phew, he should have felt when Michael Clarke shouldered arms and the ball did just enough to take the off stump.

England celebrate after Stuart Broad takes the wicket of Peter Siddle in the Fourth Ashes TestEngland celebrate after Stuart Broad takes the wicket of Peter Siddle in the Fourth Ashes Test Anderson’s place in the dressing room has altered because of the retirement of Graeme Swann. The two were an inseparable double act. But Anderson will not be following him. “I’d like to carry on playing for a bit,” he said. “I have got other friends in the team. I know we’ve got lot more to show people and I want to be a part of that.”

Dec 272013
 
Ashes 2013-14: James Anderson: We’re hungry to get something out of tour

Everybody close to him has been saying how it would all come good. But they would say that Anderson has been struggling for lateral movement, off the air or the pitch, and if the reason was a sudden loss of zip, nip, dip and rip then he was in trouble.

He needed a day like yesterday. Three wickets was as good as it has been in this series. The pitch probably suited him, a low, slow old thing which put Australia’s booming batsmen back in their boxes. Anderson found it to his liking and was able to dry up runs for the first time in this Ashes series using what used to be his routine expedient of making them commit a mistake.

ASHES PODCAST: Stephen Brenkley and Tom Collomosse discuss the second day of the Fourth Test. Listen below…

Anderson was visibly relieved. He was smiling, which is not an everyday occurrence. “Days like that have been few and far between on this trip,” he said. “We’re just really hungry to get something out of this tour and I think we showed that.”

He would not have been the grumpy fast bowler had he not had something to complain about. He found it. “I felt terrible today,” he said. “I didn’t have any rhythm. I felt really frustrated at times. I felt all right throughout the series.

“The frustration is not getting the ball swinging as much as we would have thought, and there’s not been as much seam movement as last time here. I feel like I’ve been bowling OK, just not getting the rewards, and I’ve worked really hard in between games: checking my seam position, am I in the right place to swing it, am I hitting the right lengths?” Phew, he should have felt when Michael Clarke shouldered arms and the ball did just enough to take the off stump.

England celebrate after Stuart Broad takes the wicket of Peter Siddle in the Fourth Ashes TestEngland celebrate after Stuart Broad takes the wicket of Peter Siddle in the Fourth Ashes Test Anderson’s place in the dressing room has altered because of the retirement of Graeme Swann. The two were an inseparable double act. But Anderson will not be following him. “I’d like to carry on playing for a bit,” he said. “I have got other friends in the team. I know we’ve got lot more to show people and I want to be a part of that.”

Dec 172013
 
Can England's senior players fight back?

It used to be said that a player never recovers from the disappointment of a poor Ashes tour. What are the prospects for the senior England players who failed to deliver?

Alastair Cook, England captain, looks on as Australia move closer to regaining the Ashes in the third Test in Perth

Alastair Cook is just one senior player to have donned dark glasses on a disastrous Australia tour Anthony Devlin / PA Wire / © PA Photos
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It used to be said that a player never recovers from the disappointment of a poor Ashes tour.

There is plentiful evidence in this England side to suggest otherwise: Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen were all part of the grim 2006-07 Ashes campaign yet have gone on to enjoy distinguished careers.

But when a man as reserved as Cook starts to talk about senior figures in the England side “playing for their futures” then you know something has gone seriously amiss.

England, for the first time since 2009, do not hold the Ashes and several of the senior players on which they built their hopes have failed to deliver.

Ashes defeats – particularly overwhelming Ashes defeats – tend to mark watershed moments in careers. There will be calls for resignations, there will be calls for sackings and calls for players to be dropped. It is likely some of those calls will be answered. There may even be a retirement, or at least a partial retirement, in the offing.

It is surely relevant that most of those who have endured disappointing series are those who have been involved in the England set-up for some time. As such, they have played a huge amount of cricket, they have spent around 250 days a year in hotels and they have been in the same high-intensity environment. Somewhere along the line, it appears they have become jaded.

The case of Jonathan Trott – forced home with mental exhaustion – might be extreme, but there are several other players on this tour who might be not so far from a similar fate.

Equally, it may be no coincidence that, of those to have enjoyed better series, three are relatively new to the set-up. Michael Carberry, Joe Root and Ben Stokes are all relatively fresh to international cricket, are yet to be wearied by the treadmill or worn down by the intensity of the England set-up. All three showed the mental strength to fight just a little harder than their more experienced colleagues.

Here we look at the performance of five senior players and weigh-up their chances of being involved when the Ashes is next contested, in England in 2015.

Alastair Cook: Age 28 Record in the series: 154 runs at 25.66 Chances of being involved in 2015: High

By Cook’s high standards, he has endured a poor six months. He has not made a century in any of the eight Tests against Australia and, with ponderous feet and a backlift that appears to bring his bat down at an angle, he has looked an increasingly hesitant, awkward figure at the crease. A propensity to plant his back foot may be the long-term issue: he is reaching and pushing for the ball outside the off stump and over balancing towards the off side when playing off his legs. He has also, simplistic though it may sound, been the unfortunate victim of a couple of very fine deliveries. The best batsmen find ways to deal with such issues, but Cook might consider himself somewhat unfortunate. Weariness may be a factor. No batsman in international cricket has faced as many deliveries as Cook since the 2010-11 Ashes series – he has actually faced more than 1,000 more than anyone else – and he is also carrying the burden of captaincy. When England fought back to win in India, the responsibility appeared to benefit Cook’s game but perhaps the attritional nature of the role has worn him down.

James Anderson: Age 31 Record in the series: 7 wickets at 52.48 apiece Chances of being involved in 2015: Medium

Sometimes it is a mistake to judge simply by returns. Anderson has, for much of this series, bowled far better than his figures suggest. While comparisons with the end of Matthew Hoggard’s Test career have been made – Hoggard was dropped having lost just a little of his pace – Anderson has been bowling briskly – he passed 90mph in Perth – and has rarely delivered loose balls. But his failure to find much lateral movement has rendered him worryingly impotent on pitches on which Australia’s trio of seamers have proved more adept. Anderson has also suffered through the failure of his batting colleagues: provided with little time to rest between innings, he has invariably been forced into the field in the second innings with Australia’s batsmen benefiting from a dominant match position. It would be simplistic to dismiss Anderson as dangerous only in English conditions, too: only a year ago MS Dhoni rated him the difference between the teams in India and he was excellent in Australia three years ago. This is far from the vintage performance that Anderson produced in 2010-11, but his chances of being involved when Australia return to the UK in 2015 remain decent.

Graeme Swann: Age: 34 Record in the series: 7 wicket at 80 apiece. Chances of being involved in 2015: Low.

Swann has bowled better than his figures suggest. On pitches offering him little – he is far from the first spinner to find life tough in Australia – and invariably facing match situations providing the batsmen with a license to attack, he has been given very little opportunity to shine. The relative lack of left-handers in the Australian order has done him few favours, either, while the lack of turn has rendered his arm-ball something of an irrelevance. You could not tell from the figures, but he produced his best bowling of the series in Perth, gaining pleasing dip and beating as good a player of spin as Michael Clarke in the flight in the first innings. He has failed to find much turn, however, and has also not generated the bounce of his opposite number, Nathan Lyon. There have been occasional, though unconfirmed, signs that his right elbow – twice operated upon and an increasing concern – is bothering him again and a nagging suspicion that he is not quite able to sustain the dip and turn he once could through long spells. With many, many miles on the clock and plentiful opportunities in other walks of life beckoning, it would be no surprise if Swann retired from at least one form of the game in the coming weeks.

Kevin Pietersen Age: 33 Record in the series: 165 runs at 27.50 Chances of being involved in 2015: High.

It is the manner of Pietersen’s dismissals that provokes such criticism. It can often seem he is getting himself out: twice he has been caught clipping to mid-wicket, twice he has been caught pulling and once he has been caught on the long-on boundary when trying to drive over the fielder positioned for the stroke. But such a view fails to credit the excellence of the Australian bowling against him. Pietersen has been tied down by tight bowling and inventive fields that have led to him looking for release shots. While the redoubtable Peter Siddle has gained the credit for having something of a hold over Pietersen, the truth is less straightforward. Pietersen was often forced to defend for long periods against Johnson and Harris and looked to target Siddle as the weaker member of the seam unit. People may look for easy explanations – his recent knee problems, for example – but there is little evidence of any long-term issue other than his frustration at being tied down by good, accurate bowling. There has been no shortage of fight: his strike-rate for the series – 51.40 – is considerably down on his career rate – 62.01 – and Pietersen has been conspicuous in his efforts to advise and encourage other members of the squad. He has had a disappointing series, certainly, and some will always look to punish him for perceived errors in the past. But Pietersen has recently suggested he intends to continue playing international cricket until 2015 and, whether in decline or not, remains as dangerous a player as England possess. He is far too good to be jettisoned.

Matt Prior Age: 31 Record in the series: 107 runs at 17.83 Chances of being involved in 2015: Low.

From the moment in May that Prior was presented with England’s player of the year award for the previous 12 months, his form has deteriorated. At first it was just his batting – Prior has made only one half-century in 19 subsequent innings – but of late his keeping has started to suffer, too. As a player who likes to counter-attack, part of the problem is that Prior has been brought to the crease too early against a hard ball and fresh bowlers. But he has also shown some faulty shot selection, failing to show the requisite patience and judgement about which balls to leave and defend. And, as his run of low scores increased, so his confidence has fallen. He has been another victim of some fine, disciplined bowling from Australia. The fact that his challengers – the likes of Jos Buttler, Steve Davies or Jonny Bairstow – are deemed either not to be ready or not to be in the best of form, might win him some more time, but Prior has already been the beneficiary of the selectors’ faith. Time is running out for him.

Nov 262013
 
Ashes 2013-14: Australia bowler Peter Siddle warns England that the sledging onslaught will continue throughout the series

Play on the fourth day at the Gabba was especially heated, with Australia captain Michael Clarke fined for the expletive-laden spray he dished out to England’s James Anderson.
“It’s just natural. It wasn’t any different to normal. If it hadn’t of been…

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