James Anderson: The veteran bowler enjoyed Cutandthrust against Kohli this summer and wants more. After his duel with Virat Kohli in the Indian Series that summer. James Anderson says he has his sights set on the Australian lineup, Steven Smith. As he prepares for his ninth Ashes season and fifth Australia tour.
Smith proved to be England’s arch-nemesis in each of Ashes’ last two seasons. Winning all 40 in Australia in 2017-18. When he racked up 687 runs at 137.40 and 22 defending the ballot box at England in 2019. Even topping the tally with 774 at 110.57. Including Twin Hundreds in their victory in the Edgbaston Opening Test.
However, Anderson has unfinished deals in the ashes when he limped out of the 2019 series. After throwing just four overs in the same Edgbaston test. But after enjoying the renewal of his rivalry last summer with Kohli. A man he did not fire for seven years before his first ball window at Trent Bridge in August. He is confident of taking the fight to Smith when their paths cross again in Gabba on December 8.
“As a bowler, you always look at the best player, and for me over the last three, four, or five years. Steve Smith’s been Australia’s best player,” Anderson told Fox Cricket’s Road to the Ashes podcast. “He’s been the one they rely on for their volume of runs, obviously supported by guys around him like [David] Warner and [Marnus] Labuschagne recently. But he’s been their go-to in the last few years. So he’ll be the one that we will be keen to get out early.”
Even at the age of 39 and more than a decade after starring in England’s last victory. With Ashes in Australia in 2010-11, Anderson remains the leader of England’s test attack.
And even more important to their hopes of success now that England switched from his original plan to Australia he had to veer off with the injured Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes in the foreground, instead of reverting to a more forensic approach after his suture attack.
“We’ve got to start well. The Gabba, in particular, is huge for us,” Anderson said of the series opener in Brisbane on December 8. “If we can get one-up on a few batters early. Then that can have a real snowball effect throughout the series.
“Bowling in Australia is not necessarily more difficult, it’s just different,” he said. “In England, the Dukes swings more often than not, and with the wickets, we play on, you can get some seam movement as well. But you’re not going to get many swings with a Kookaburra, so it’s just about trying to hit good areas. You’ve just got to be relentless, and so accurate. And that’s where people do struggle.”
Since Ashes’ last tour, where he topped the England average with 17 wickets at 27.82. Anderson has racked up another 109 at 22.88 in 32 Tests. Of which 15 were against India at 24.66 this summer, including a Firstinnings Five for at Lord’s. 6-of-3 in eight overs as India scored 78 on day one at Headingley. However, Anderson claimed it was his one-on-one match with Kohli that gave him the most pleasure.
James Anderson wants Steve Smith in his sights come the first Test at the Gabba
“This summer was probably my favorite contest with Virat,” Anderson said, after dismissing India’s captain twice at a total cost of 64 runs in the course of the four completed Tests. “We’ve had a few good battles over the years, both in England and India, but this year was certainly my favorite.
“I got him out a few times but also he got some runs as well. And we had a battle on the field where there was definitely a mutual respect there. It was in a really nice manner if that makes sense. Obviously, we were going at each other, but it was in a well-spirited way. So I really enjoyed that.”
Anderson is bowling with more skill. And control than ever in his career of 18 years, 166 events, and 632 wickets.
He goes to the ashes with a measure of realism. About the cost of running five tests in six weeks probably means accepting his body.
“I will do exactly what I did in our summer,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be playing all five, but I’d be happy with three or four.
“You manage it as you go through the series,” he added. “If any of the bowlers’ workload spikes – if we do a 50-55 overs in a Test match – you’ve got to look at the next one. And if it’s sensible to play because they come so thick and fast.
“We’ve got a decent squad of bowlers, so we can rotate a little bit. As we have been for the last 18 months to two years. The likelihood of playing all five at my age, to be honest at any age in Australia, [is slim]. It does take a lot out of you, especially in the heat in some of the venues. So we just have to wait and see.”
Either way, he’s one of those English players who have no qualms about joining the series. As the tour awaits final approval after weeks of negotiations over the quarantine conditions. That tourists and their families will face.
James Anderson wheels away after getting Virat Kohli
“My family won’t be coming out there,” he added. “I’ve got two kids at school, so any sort of quarantine. Just means that they can’t get the time to come over. But for those guys with younger families, and particularly those guys who play all formats. It’s a long time away from home.
“We’ve spent two years, pretty much, in bubbles and not seeing families. So to have another three months away from them, especially over Christmas and New Year would have been tough.”
There has been some reaction to England’s stance before the tour from people. Like Sir Ian Botham on the home front and the Australian media from Australia. But Anderson has seen it all since his first tour of England in 2003. And he has plenty of advice for the less experienced members of the tour group.
“As with any Ashes series there’s always a lot of noise around it,” he said. “We’ve already seen that a little bit. There can be distractions from outside of the actual cricket. But what we do on the field, that’s where it matters. That’s where the series is going to be won and lost.
“So it’s about trying to get ourselves in the best possible mental space. And skills-wise getting ourselves in the best place, on December 8 at the Gabba. And improve on what we’ve done over our summer.”
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