England’s performance during the series has been far from convincing
England pace bowler James Anderson has admitted that England have not looked like the world number one Test side at all during their series against South Africa.
Anderson noted that defending the number one Test team spot was something England were still “coming to terms with”.
After losing the first Test at The Oval by an innings and 12 runs and the second at Leeds being a draw, England must win the final Test at Lord’s in order to retain their top Test team ranking.
After being India and taking over the top spot, England last lost five out of the last nine Tests they have played, and their form in the current series against South Africa has been well below par.
England took only two wickets in 189 overs at The Oval, and were bowled out twice, with the difference between runs per wicket for each side being the largest in Test cricket history.
South Africa can end the series on a high if they win or draw the final Test at Lord’s, but Anderson stated that England had come too far to just give up.
Speaking exclusively to the Evening Standard, Anderson said: “When you’re trying to become number one in the world, you’re trying to chase everyone else down and now we’re the ones being chased, so it’s a different position we’re in and maybe we’ve not quite come to terms with that yet. It’s a different challenge that comes with different pressures. People expect you to win and to play well every week and, in reality, that’s not going to happen. You’re going to have days or weeks where you’re not quite on top of your game and unfortunately, this was one of those weeks. We’ll just have to make sure we come back strongly.”
“It was our goal for a number of years to get to the top of the rankings and when you get there, you want to stay there. We know if we lose the series, we won’t stay there. People expect you to play as the number one team in the world and we didn’t do that this week,” Anderson added.
Anderson noted that England could learn a thing or two from the first Test, where South African batsman Hashim Amla recorded a triple century, while Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith both made centuries as well.
Anderson also thought that England’s bowling attack could stand to show a bit more “intent and aggression” like the South African bowlers do.
“We’re a very good unit when we’re aggressive and in batsmen’s faces and we probably didn’t do that as well as we could, even if it’s hard to be aggressive when you’re bowling at two guys who have scored hundreds,” Anderson said.
England batsman Ian Bell stated that England needed to figure out what went wrong in the first two Tests, and hopefully by learning from the mistakes made, the team can bounce back and win the final Test at Lord’s.
“We’re an open and honest dressing room and we’re critical of each other, constructively, after a game like that, everyone is encouraged to speak their mind and there is no bullshit. It’s something Andy Flower brought in when he became coach and it’s something that’s helped us improve. Andy encourages everyone to speak, whether they have played one Test or 100. When I started playing, that wasn’t the case. There would be a few senior voices in the dressing room and that would be it, and maybe that’s why we weren’t as successful then. Now the honesty we have and the respect we have for each other means that when someone speaks, everyone listens, no matter who they are. We don’t sit there for hours talking drivel. It could be 10 minutes, it could be half an hour but then it’s done,” Bell said.