Image courtesy of: The Telegraph
“It’s hard to build a relationship with the opposition”
England pace bowler James Anderson has revealed that he is more concerned about leading his team to Ashes glory for a fourth time in a row, a feat which England have not accomplished since the 19th century, than drinking beers and getting to know the Australian players.
During the recent Ashes series at home, Anderson picked up 22 wickets at a brilliant average of 29.59 and he is hoping to be just as successful when he and the rest of his team-mates travel to the Land Down Under in a few days.
“We had a beer at the end of the series but it was quite strange,” Anderson said. ” Because you’re thinking at the back of your mind that you don’t want to give too much away because you’re going to see them in a few weeks. So it was quite odd.
“It is difficult. It doesn’t really happen with any country. Unless you play with them in county cricket or the IPL or whatever, it’s hard to build a relationship with the opposition. Because the schedule is that tight, that you’re just going from game to game, playing against each other, there’s no time in between just to chat.”
Anderson also revealed that during England’s humiliating 5-0 whitewash in the 2006-07 Ashes series, the Australian public refused to show any form of respect towards the team.
“At the start of that series they were ignoring us,” he said. “You would walk past people that you knew would just blank you, they made a point of doing that.”
The pace bowler added that he does not care about what Australia coach Darren Lehmann has to say about the England team.
“To be honest, I’m not interested what Darren Lehmann thinks about what style of cricket we play,” he said.
Anderson also felt as if England could have done better against Australia this summer.
“We didn’t play well, and we were scrapping like mad to try to keep ourselves in games and to try to win games,” he said. “At the end of the day, we won a Test series and that’s what we set out to do. As much as we’d love to entertain everyone, hit sixes and bowl people out quickly, it doesn’t always happen like that. And sometimes you’ve just got to try to win any way you can.”
After thrashing Australia 3-0 recently, the 31-year-old has expressed his desire for the team to stay together.
“I hope so,” Anderson said when asked if the team really could stay together for a few more years. “But I hope [we go on together] because I think we’ve got something really special. We’ve got a lot of experience but we’re by no means over the hill yet, the core of the team. I’m hopeful there’s a few more series in us yet.”
Anderson also noted that it was great to see youngsters like Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes included in the Ashes team as he believes it will “make the transition easier in the future”.
“The more young guys that we can get in the squad, not necessarily playing all the time, but if you can get them in and around the squad, and used to the international scene, that will obviously make the transition easier in the future,” Anderson said. “But it is useful to have guys who’ve got experience to help the other lads through.”
Anderson also recalled how he was seen as more of a “threat” than a new member of the side when he made his international debut in the ODI series that followed the Ashes in 2002-03.
“It was a very different team then,” he said. “It wasn’t as easy to come into the side, you were thought of as a threat rather than as a new member of the team. We were aware of it and it doesn’t help the team.”
However, Anderson is determined not to let that type of team culture carry on.
“Things have changed,” he said. “A few guys who were around then have drawn on that experience to try and make things easier now for the guys coming into the team, to try and help them settle in a bit easier. We know what works in a successful team and you need it to be a settled dressing room, and I think making people comfortable when they come into the team is a huge part of that.”
The master of reverse swing also believes that England were able to register a 3-0 win over Australia this summer since they had more experienced players in their team compared to the baggy greens.
“There were some very tight Tests in there that could have gone either way, it could quite easily have been 2-1 to them,” Anderson said. “We have had experience of not only winning tight Tests, we’ve managed to hang on for draws in quite a few in the last few years. You can draw on that experience, especially when you’re in tight situations. I think we did that quite a lot, and also the fact that Australia are quite a young side and probably not used to winning those tight Tests.
“We were put under quite a lot of pressure by them. But we managed to win those crucial moments, it just got us over the line.”
However, Anderson acknowledged that England must take their game to the next level in Australia since the baggy greens are looking for retribution.
“We know we’ll have to play better if we’re going to win in Australia,” he said. “The amount of runs we got is something we’re going to have to emulate – it will be very difficult – but it’s something we’ve got to strive for. [Alastair] Cook and [Jonathan] Trott didn’t perform as well as they would have liked [this summer], and they will be trying to turn that around for Australia. I think it will be really tough, I think it will be a close series.”