Image courtesy of: news.com.au
“That was a tour I will be very happy to forget”
England pace bowler James Anderson has announced that the national team do not want to relive the tragic memories of the 2006-07 Ashes series, where England were whitewashed 5-0 by Australia, but instead, they will try and mirror the 2010-11 series, where they beat Australia 3-1 in their own backyard.
Anderson noted he was always more than “happy to forget” the 2006-07 series, in which Andrew Flintoff replaced Michael Vaughan as captain.
“That was a tour I will be very happy to forget,” Anderson said. “But it is a huge motivator because you never want it to happen again.
“There wasn’t the closeness within the squad that we had four years later. As a group, we had gone downhill since 2005. Nobody seemed to know what our best team was, we chopped and changed and while it wasn’t every man for himself, we weren’t settled.
“People talk about Steve Harmison’s first ball in 2006 setting the tone for that series, but going down in the second Test in Adelaide [after batting first and declaring on 551-6] was as bad as it gets. To be in such a commanding position and lose was really deflating.
“They were such a strong side with so many match-winners — Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist — that once the tide turned, it just swept us away.”
Anderson noted that the tour was made worse by the Australian public as they continuously sledged them both on and off the field.
“The home crowds were truly awful [to our wives and girlfriends],” Anderson recalled. “It was prolific and downright nasty and there was no let-up. We just couldn’t wait to get out of there, to such a degree that Daniella vowed never to go back.
“We would be walking along the street and you’d get it. But you’d be with your wife, so it would affect them as well as you, and that was difficult to take.”
The England pace bowler also admitted that the “pain of 2006-07” still lingers in both his heart and mind.
“Of the experiences and memories I had in 2006-07 or on the last tour, it is hard to say which would be the greater motivating force, but it would probably be the latter, because those feelings we had at the end, sitting down together with a beer, reflecting on what we’d just achieved, we all want so much again,” Anderson added. “I remember we did this impromptu thing when we went round the group and everyone came up with their favourite moment. Everyone talked about their own experience of the tour, what they’d loved about it and what they would keep with them.
“I don’t think any of us has ever spoken about what was said that day. I certainly feel it is a privilege to be able to share those really personal memories and to keep them within the group. The pain of 2006-07 is still there, but more than that we want to grab the kind of feeling we had at the end of the last series.”
With Anderson still haunted by memories of the whitewash, he revealed that all his team-mates are determined to “be known as the best England team that there ever has been”.
“No one is speaking about retirement, but we do feel this is our time and that we must make the most of these years because there are fewer to come than there were,” Anderson said. “We believe we have more to give as a team and a bigger legacy to leave. We want to be known as the best England team that there ever has been. We’ve taken strides to become that, but we feel we have more improvements to make.
“From my point of view, I see no reason why it should be my last Ashes tour. Of course, you may have seen the best of me. Who knows what is around the corner? But I think I can get better and I will strive to make sure there is more to come.
Anderson also noted that it was “surreal” to think that he only needed 55 wickets to overtake the legendary Sir Ian Botham as England’s most successful Test bowler in history.
“I never take for granted what I have achieved and how many times I’ve played for England or wickets I’ve taken. This is what I’ve wanted to do all my life, the drive is still as strong as ever and I don’t want it to stop. I still cherish each cap as much as when I started playing and get as huge a rush from each wicket as I ever did.
“Deep down, part of me is still that star-struck lad coming into the team for the first time. To think that I’m now the guy on 329 Test wickets is surreal.
“Look at the most successful bowlers of our time, Murali and Warne. They took 800 and 708 Test wickets and they celebrated the last one as much as they did the first. That is a great mentality to have and, at the moment, I love that feeling too much to think about not doing it.”