South Africa in England 2012 July 26, 2012

We didn't play like No. 1 - Anderson

ESPNcricinfo staff

James Anderson, the England fast bowler, has admitted the pressure that comes with defending their No. 1 Test status is something the team is still "coming to terms with".

England lost by an innings at The Oval in the first Test of their series against South Africa, which will decide the top ranking. After overtaking India during last summer's 4-0 whitewashing, England have now lost five of their last nine Tests and although a draw against South Africa will keep them at No. 1, their tenure has been far from convincing.

England only managed to take two wickets in 189 overs at The Oval, whilst being bowled out twice, with the difference between runs per wicket for each side the biggest in Test history. South Africa can seal the series with victory in the second Test at Headingley, starting on August 2, but Anderson said England will strive to make sure their performance matches up to what is expected of the top team in Tests.

"When you're trying to become number one in the world, you're trying to chase everyone else down and now we're the ones being chased," Anderson told the Evening Standard. "So it's a different position we're in and maybe we've not quite come to terms with that yet.

"It's a different challenge that comes with different pressures. People expect you to win and to play well every week and, in reality, that's not going to happen. You're going to have days or weeks where you're not quite on top of your game and unfortunately, this was one of those weeks. We'll just have to make sure we come back strongly.

"It was our goal for a number of years to get to the top of the rankings and when you get there, you want to stay there. We know if we lose the series, we won't stay there. People expect you to play as the number one team in the world and we didn't do that this week."

Anderson said that England's batsmen could learn from the performances of Jacques Kallies, who scored an unbeaten 182, and Hashim Amla, whose triple-hundred was the first in Tests by a South African. The bowlers would also attempt to replicate the "intent and aggression" shown by South Africa's attack.

"We're a very good unit when we're aggressive and in batsmen's faces and we probably didn't do that as well as we could, even if it's hard to be aggressive when you're bowling at two guys who have scored hundreds," Anderson said.

Ian Bell has spoken of the need for England's players to discuss what went wrong during the first Test and Anderson reiterated that the squad would be frank with each other in trying to improve their showing in Leeds.

"We're an open and honest dressing room and we're critical of each other, constructively," he said. "After a game like that, everyone is encouraged to speak their mind and there is no bullshit.

"It's something Andy Flower brought in when he became coach and it's something that's helped us improve. Andy encourages everyone to speak, whether they have played one Test or 100. When I started playing, that wasn't the case. There would be a few senior voices in the dressing room and that would be it, and maybe that's why we weren't as successful then.

"Now the honesty we have and the respect we have for each other means that when someone speaks, everyone listens, no matter who they are. We don't sit there for hours talking drivel. It could be 10 minutes, it could be half an hour but then it's done. You move on and you focus on what you can do better at Headingley."

England have announced ahead of the second Test that the fast bowlers Steven Finn and Graham Onions will be available for Middlesex and Durham, respectively, in their Championship matches starting on Friday. Ravi Bopara, the current incumbent at No. 6, can play for Essex against Worcestershire in the CB40 on Sunday, the same day that England will name their squad for Headingley.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on July 29, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    @reality_check27 on (July 29 2012, 08:25 AM GMT) 1992 ? That's a desperately long time ago.10/10 for efforts there - not sure re the relevance though

  • Rakesh on July 29, 2012, 14:39 GMT


    It is you who needs the a good REALITY CHECK

    England WON TEST Series in Pakistan in 2000-01

    ENGLAND won TEST Series 2-1 in SL in 2001 after losing 1st test due to extremely poor umpiring in favour of sl.

    SL and PAk are part of Subcontinent unless it has changed overnight

    Check facts before posting

  • Dummy4 on July 29, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    any team playing at home wins these days . winning away against a bits and pieces west indies team and drawing against south africans (you have to thank rain gods for that) and winning against the weakest aussies team of all time and thrashing an injury prone and low on morale indian team is no way to get to the top. whats wrong with this ranking system? england has to face the inevitable now. they are the worst team till date to be the no.1 test side. south africa are a more worthy of that tag. and its not over for england. they have a thrashing waiting for them in india. i totally pity them. and wait t20 world cup in srilanka they wont even win against bangladesh. what a pathetic excuse of a team.

  • Dummy4 on July 29, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    To all you sub-continental and antipodean gainsayers I say this... go and check the ICC Test Rankings, then come back and tell us that England are not No.1. As Anderson said, they didn't play like the No.1 side, in this last test, nor did they against Pakistan or, to a certain extent against Sri Lanka, but they had played sufficiently well in the past to not let those results upest the rankings. The rankings which are incidentally calculated using the same criteria for all teams. We all know the reasons why the aforementioned supporters are like they are... it's trying to gain some rather petty revenge after the thrashings we gave you last time we met. Well carry on with your vendetta.. it won't change the facts.. And the fact is that until and if England lose this series, they are still numero uno... Sticks in the craw of some of you I know... but tough. Read it and weep...

  • vinit on July 29, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    coomon guys let 5wombats enjoy this it was so unbelievable for him that his team beat india 4-0 .but here is something for u 5wombats in 1992 we beat engalnd witewash when they cam to india and since then afetr nearly 18 years england finally beat us in england that was this series where we lost 4-0 but we beat england in england 1-0 in 2007 so why dont u stop and check out stats before u write anything as far as england go u have only managed to beat bangladesh in 18 years on subcontinent that is test series what does that tell u about engalnd please publish crickinfo

  • Sello on July 29, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    @Mankappan Hu. You've got to be kidding me, England couldn't reach 250 on their 2nd innings on a less swinging pitch and yet you claim they could reach 350 twice on a more swinging pitch? Clearly you haven't seen what SA bowlers could do on a swinging pitch. Remember Aus 47 all out? Conditions= swinging. Remember NZ 5-0 middle order collapse? Conditions= swinging. Never underestimate SA bowlers on swinging conditions.

  • John on July 29, 2012, 8:04 GMT

    @ Mankappan Hu on (July 29 2012, 06:27 AM GMT) I just feel that Eng batsmen are in the same place they were in UAE where you just wouldn't expect them to chase any sort of score dowm. Hope I'm proved wrong. Also hope our bowlers are not too affected by how the 1st test went.

  • Dummy4 on July 29, 2012, 6:27 GMT

    JG2704-we both are essentially stating the same.let me make it clear.when i mean "swing bowl" 350 would be a match winning score there.with our deep batting resources + trott/Cook/Kp?bell/prior we have a better chance of reaching there twice.esp more than SA IF we can get amla and Kallis out together so that they cant put on a partnership.(obviously i count on our bowlers here)..Kallis doesnt have a great record when the bowl swings around(till now) and our best and ONLY bet is to go for swing friendly conditions.Agreed it would suit the Saffers as well but we have seen the limitations of our side/proficiency of the opponents.If the opponents were Inida Bell and Prior would have scored 100s and saved the match on final day and prior would have been the new Gily(he s still the best wik-bat)BUT steyn is equivalent to WI greats and can take wickets on concrete.hope you get my point...likewise they have gems in their batting lineup as well..pls publish..

  • Jeremy on July 29, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    @thecheechman - SA haven't lost an away series in 6-years, that's very impressive, but only serves to highlight their home-form - had they maintained a similar level of excellence at home, then they would be undisputed #1 side - they aren't. "Special" teams also have a habit of inflicting heavy defeats or whitewashes against the opposition, especially on their home soil - and yes, I'm talking about the more competitive teams ranked 2-5 - SA clearly haven't achieved this. They may well have the potential to develop into a "special" side - only time will tell. Unfortunately for SA (and #2 AUS), ENG have been decisively winning series over the last 3-years, and the "decline" has only begun since they secured the #1 ranking. If SA wrest it away from them by winning this series, then you'll be the much-deserved #1 ranked side. Good luck to both teams & looking forward to 2nd Test.

  • Mathew on July 29, 2012, 3:08 GMT guys are off your collective heads. Eng are no.1 because they deserve to be. If SA beat us they deserve it. SA haven't beaten a top 4 side since Gengis Khan and their actual last 3 years has been less than dominant. Eng dont travel that well (shock) but at least we travel, I read somewhere that Ind are not coming out of the sub-cont for over 2 years!!!!!

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