Ahead of the highly-anticipated Ashes starting from June 16 at Edgbaston, veteran England fast-bowler James Anderson reflected on planning to outsmart premier Australia batter, Steve Smith, saying if one digs in too deeply, he can get affected in a bad way.
Smith averages 59.55 in 16 Tests in England with six centuries and seven half-centuries. In the 2019 Ashes, Smith made a resounding comeback to the longest format of the game by scoring 774 runs in four Tests to help Australia retain the Ashes through a drawn 2-2 scoreline.
“I never really like singling anyone out, but he’s had a lot of success against us in recent times. Maybe in the past, we’ve actually gone overboard in thinking of ways to get people out. I’ll never forget the series in 2013-14 when Mitchell Johnson had a great time.”
“Before that, we were so worried about him that we got Tymal Mills, the left-arm quick, and a few other guys to bowl at us in the nets off 16 yards, and the lads were terrorised before they even started the series. I think if you look too deeply into stuff like that it can affect you in a bad way,” Anderson was quoted as saying by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Anderson, England’s leading wicket-taker in Tests, believes without having to worry about outclassing a particular batter or bowler has worked wonders for England in the past one year, winning 10 out of 12 Tests with a fearless and ultra-attacking approach.
“What we’ve done brilliantly in the last 12 months is thinking about what we do well. That’s worked particularly well for the batters not worrying about who’s bowling at them, and just really concentrating on their strengths and the areas they can score in.”
“It’s the same for the bowlers, I think. There might be the odd fielding position here and there, but generally, we’ll focus on us and getting 20 wickets in the game. It’s dangerous to look too much at one player when you come up against a batting line-up like the Australians.”
“Of course, we’ll look at each batter and each bowler will have a general plan, but also what we’ve done really well over the last year or so is try to think on our feet and think slightly out of the box when we’re actually in the game. Then go with what the game scenario suggests, what the wicket suggests,” he added.
Anderson, who recovered from a groin strain sustained while featuring in the County Championship, does not expect any fast bowler to play all five matches in the Ashes.
“I think it would be foolish for any bowler to think they can get through all five. If you look at previous series, neither side has gone through with the same unchanged bowling line-up.”
“Australia have done it very well in the past, rotating their quicks. Even now Pat’s captain, with Steve Smith being able to take over the captaincy, I think he’ll still look after his body as much as possible.”
“I’m trying to be realistic. I can’t imagine I get through all five Tests if they are as gruelling as I know Ashes cricket can be. But I’ll prepare for the first Test and whatever happens after that happens, and hopefully I can play a big part,” he concluded.