Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 3rd day January 4, 2007

Anderson calls for tail-end resistance

Something to shout about © Getty Images
James Anderson is a man of few words at the best of times. Given that these are the worst of times for England's cricketers, it is hardly surprising to learn that he was at a loss to explain his side's latest meltdown. Paraded in front of the media as a pyrrhic success with figures of 3 for 98, he could do little more than shrug at the futility of it all.

"It's hard to put your finger on it," he said, when asked how England had let a position of apparent parity in morning session slide away to a position of ignominy. Australia were 260 for 6 and then 318 for 7, before a tail inspired by Shane Warne's 71 added 75 match-turning runs.

"We thought at the time we had a good chance to get three quick wickets, but obviously there were a few play-and-misses," added Anderson. "If we bowled wide of the stumps he missed it, but if it was on the stumps he hit it.

"You just have to bowl more or less as you do to any other batter, really. With Shane you always think you've got a chance, because there will be a few mistimed shots, but that's just the way he plays. He hasn't played differently to how he has normally."

Anderson did at least have three wickets to ease the pain of impending defeat, and he added that he hadn't been surprised to be entrusted with the new ball, despite his late call-up. "I learned on the morning of the game," he said, "but I'm not really surprised. Steve [Harmison] has not taken it for a while. I replaced Hoggy and I consider myself a new-ball bowler, so I was more than happy to take it."

Anderson was the weakest link in England's attack in the first two Tests at Brisbane and Adelaide, but he felt he had improved throughout the tour, citing the two-day warm-up match at Perth as his best performance. The same could not be said of England's tail-end batting, however. On this occasion their last five batsmen made four runs between them.

"Obviously we need to put up a good fight tomorrow," Anderson added. "We need our tail to wag like theirs did, and if Kevin [Pietersen] stays there for a while, hopefully we can do a similar job. We have nets like any other batters, and throw-downs as much as we want. We need to sort it out like Clark and Warne and get a few runs. That was the difference between a 30-run lead and a 100 lead."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo