The Ashes: Dearth of wickets drives on Anderson to deliver
James Anderson admits his wicketless showing at Lord’s spurred him on to his best Ashes bowling figures on day one of the third Investec Test.
Anderson may be the leading wicket-taker in England’s history but he was well short of his best at the home of cricket, returning a combined 0-137 as Australia romped to a 405-run victory.
Brickbats flew his way in the aftermath, with former Australia batsman Mark Waugh suggesting England’s leading bowler “did not look interested”.
He responded in the perfect fashion at Edgbaston, taking 6-47 as he moved the ball through the air and off the pitch to skittle the tourists for 136.
By stumps England were on 133-3 and in position to build a sizeable advantage, leaving Anderson to reflect on how a sit down with bowling coach Ottis Gibson helped lift him from the lows of Lord’s.
“I’ve done some work with Ottis which has really helped – especially after a game when you don’t get any wickets,” he said.
“He thought that I was just putting the ball there during the Lord’s game ... (so) I worked on finishing my action a bit more.
“After getting no wickets, obviously the confidence takes a bit of a hit. But what it does do is make you more determined to get wickets and bowl better.
“I knew I could have bowled better than I did at Lord’s. So after the work that I’d done, and the week off, I felt my confidence was pretty high.
“My job is to take wickets, set the tone with the new ball, try to make it move if I can.”
Such was the dominance of the Australia victory last time out, the pendulum had appeared to swing decisively in their favour despite the series standing level at 1-1.
But Anderson sensed his side were ready to make a big response and banish those memories at the first opportunity.
“We were all disappointed with the way we performed at Lord’s,” he said.
“But having a week away has done us a bit of good, I think. We were all refreshed, all raring to go, knowing we could play better.
“That was what was driving us on. We were disappointed, and wanted to prove to people we could play better than that.
“It was great to get them out for such a low score, then I thought the guys batted really positively and really well. We thought it looked a good pitch and we were going to bat if we won the toss.
“We weren’t expecting it to do as much as it did. Throughout the day there was probably a high percentage of poor shots rather than good balls that got wickets.”
Australia would have been in even more dire trouble had opener Chris Rogers not knuckled down for 52 uncomfortable runs at the head of the innings.
He never quite got to grips with the pace trio of Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, the latter making his Test comeback after two years out, but still comfortably top-scored.
Michael Clarke’s decision to bat first will come under scrutiny given the state of the scoreboard but Rogers was fully behind the call.
“It was tough conditions but I don’t think we expected them to be as hard as they were,” he said.
“When the cloud came over it really swung and seamed. We still have a lot of question marks over that wicket, there are still cracks in it. I’ve got no problems with us batting on that.
“I don’t think the focus is wrong. But finding a way? That’s possibly a concern.”
The 37-year-old, who had been a doubt for the match having suffered from a blow to the head in the second Test, also made a point of highlighting Finn’s contribution.
Rogers captained the seamer at Middlesex at the height of the dip that saw him deemed ‘unselectable’ by England and the pair remain firm friends despite being in rival dressing rooms.
“I guess I saw him at his lowest ebb ... he was probably in tears here at Edgbaston during a game here,” said Rogers.
“It’s a long way back and credit to him, he bowled particularly well, but he is the opposition at the moment.”
Anderson was also quick to praise team-mate Finn, who endured a nightmare tour Down Under 18 months ago when he was deemed unselectable at the time becuse of ongoing problems with his action.
“He’s obviously had a tough 18 months and he’s worked so hard to get back in the Test side,” added Anderson.
“Everyone in the dressing room is delighted for him. His first few overs were outstanding.”
Match report and scorecard: Page 22