England fast bowler James Anderson has said that the wickets prepared for the Ashes series undermined the team’s chances of beating Australia.
Anderson suggested that the pitches had been produced to make as much money as possible, wrecking any notion of home advantage.
“When you're selling out - like Lancashire selling out five days of Test cricket - it's hard not to produce a flat deck but, you know, that's one of the frustrations from a player's point of view,” he said. “I think they've probably suited Australia more than us. I would have liked to have seen a bit more grass but that's the nature of the game here."
Anderson contrasted the wickets produced with those England get when they go abroad, arguing that these gave the hosts far greater home advantage than England have enjoyed this summer.
“We go to Australia and get pitches that suit them. They come over here and get pitches that suit them. It doesn't seem quite right,” he said. “We as a country or cricket team, cricket board, don't use home advantage enough.
“When you go to Australia, go to India, Sri Lanka, they prepare pitches that suit them. I feel like we could just be a little bit more biased towards our own team.”
Anderson suggested that pitches more closely resembling those in the series against India last year, when England beat the world number one side 4-1, would be have been more to England’s liking. “I thought they were good pitches here against India. I thought they weren't green seamers but I thought they suited us more than India.”
Anderson only bowled four overs in England’s defeat in the first Test at Edgbaston, and was then ruled out of the remainder of the series when a recurrence of his calf injury curtailed his comeback hopes.
“It’s always frustrating when you can’t be involved and be out there,” Anderson said. “It’s just been a big disappointment, the whole thing for me. I was gutted when I came off in that game. You can beat yourself up about it.
“If I’d played the whole game it might have been a different outcome. But if you dwell on that, you send yourself crazy.”
While Anderson turned 37 in July, he still hopes to add to his 149 Test caps. For now, Anderson is targeting returning to the Test team for the tour of New Zealand in November - or, if not, the tour of South Africa the following month. His desire to play on is such that he is even considering whether to become a vegan.
“I'm open-minded. I'll give anything a go if it prolongs my career yeah,” he said. “I actually have chatted it through with my wife actually - she's not keen.”
Anderson’s rehabilitation work begins at the end of the week. He intends to use the moment to study how other sportspeople have been able to extend their careers, scouring for potential lessons.
“I’m going to try and investigate every possible avenue of what do I need to do at my age to keep myself in good shape. I feel in really good condition. I feel as fit as I ever have. It’s just the calf keeps twanging. I’m going to look at every possible thing I can to make sure I can play for as long as possible. I’ll look at how other sportspeople have done it throughout their careers to keep going into their late 30s. Whether there’s anything specific I can do, diet, gym programme, supplements, whatever it might be. Because I’ve still got a real hunger and desire to play cricket. I still love the game and still feel like I can offer something to this team and still have the skills and can bowl quick enough to have a positive effect.
“If I'm not good enough and feel I'm detracting from the team and I'm too slow or whatever it might be then I'm not going to embarrass myself or drag the team down. I'll only keep playing if I think I can be one of the best bowlers in the world and if I think I can help this team win games of Test cricket. It's not just blinkered thinking, I’m going to just drag out as many possible games as I can.”
As England try and rebuild their Test team after the failure to regain the Ashes at home, and the looming departure of Trevor Bayliss, Anderson suggested that there should be more focus on the red-ball game.
“Obviously the last four years has been a real focus on one-day cricket, trying to win the World Cup. We’ve now done that,” he said. “I think we need to find a good balance. We’ve kind of been one or the other. In my career, it’s been Test priority in the first bit and then this last four-year cycle has been a push for the white-ball stuff. We need to find a balance, it’s as simple as that. We’ve got to try to give equal attention to both.”
James Anderson was speaking on behalf of ‘The Test Experts’ Specsavers, Official Test Partner of the England cricket team ahead of the final Test of the Specsavers Ashes Series at The Oval