England’s joy matched by Jimmy
ENGLAND’S joy at watching a procession of Australian batsmen heading to and from the MCG pavilion on the second afternoon may have been matched only by the performance of their attack leader, Jimmy Anderson.
Seven wickets in the first three Tests had cost him 54 apiece. His pace looked down, he could find no swing – either conventional or reverse – and the first Test at Trent Bridge in July, where Anderson’s 10 wickets set England on their way to a 3-0 series win, felt a lifetime ago.
But three big scalps – as Australia slumped to 164 for 9 at stumps in reply to England’s 255 – went some way to redressing the balance of a miserable tour, and gave Alastair Cook’s much-mocked tourists their best day of the series.
The rewards were the scalps of Australia’s better batsmen, not to mention captain Michael Clarke.
And patience: Anderson has put England’s revival down to sticking to a ‘boring’ game plan devised by captain Cook.
Anderson put that down to their disciplined approach at the MCG.
He said: “We just stuck to our plan. There’s no demons as such in the pitch, it’s just hard to score on.
“We just tried to bang out our areas and be as boring and patient as possible throughout the whole day.
“Maybe in previous games we’ve got a bit excited and carried away and gone away from our plan, and that’s something that we’ve concentrated on this game.
“The frustrating thing is not getting the ball swinging as much as we thought, and there hasn’t been as much seam movement as there was last time we were here,” said Anderson, who claimed the wickets of Clarke, David Warner and George Bailey.
“I feel like I’ve been bowling okay, but just not getting the usual rewards for it.”
Rewind: James Anderson was a hero during England’s 3-0 Ashes win in July where he took 10 wickets.
Three years ago Anderson was at the heart of England’s first victory in Australia for 24 years, claiming 24 wickets at 26 apiece as Andrew Strauss’s side won three Tests by an innings.
But his Ashes figures between Nottingham and the end of the third Test in Perth took a rare old hammering: 19 wickets in seven Tests had cost 47 each.
He had been conceding 3.30 runs an over, and striking only once every 86 balls.
It was the performance expected not of an attack bowler but of a third-change seamer.
Intriguingly, Anderson received support from an unlikely source after he finished the second day with three wickets in the bag.
Australian opener Chris Rogers said: “I’ve found he’s bowled well at times in this series. Maybe because he’s carried a big load, it’s worn him down a bit.
“But facing him with the new ball, he’s bowled quite well.”
Anderson preferred to talk about a happier day for his side rather than dwell on his own recent struggles. “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 we showed that today. I thought we fielded pretty well all day – well, most of the other guys.”
That was a reference to a pair of catches he dropped. One would have gone down as a classic, as Anderson dived to his right at midwicket and failed to cling on to a Steve Smith pull.
But the other was an old-fashioned howler, as Mitchell Johnson’s drive off Tim Bresnan picked Anderson out at short cover – and fell to ground.
Soon after, Anderson redeemed himself by catching Johnson at short midwicket, again off Bresnan – and was engulfed by grateful colleagues suddenly sensing the chance of their first Test win.
England’s resurgence has all been achieved without the help of his good friend Graeme Swann, whose shock retirement will not affect Anderson’s future.
“It’s been a disappointing tour, and I know we’ve got a lot more to show people. I want to be a part of that. Swanny was a big character in our dressing-room, but there are other big characters in there too.
“As harsh as it sounds – because he’s a good friend – but we’ve got to move on.
“It’s of course sad to see him leave, but we’ve got to concentrate on the future now. We want to get something out of this Test – and the next one.” – Daily Mail 21st Tokai Manor 16km, Tokai Forest Men: WPCC 4km time trial Start: Thursdays at 5:45 from the runners tap
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FLYING: England fast bowler James Anderson celebrates taking the wicket of Australian captain Michael Clarke on the second day of the Melbourne Test.