South Africa in England 2012 August 21, 2012

Anderson admits defeat is 'a huge wake-up call'


James Anderson has admitted England's much-vaunted bowling attack were given a sharp "wake-up call" by the quality of their South African counterparts. The Test series against South Africa had been billed as a battle between the two best bowling attacks in world cricket but there proved to be little comparison as South Africa clinched the series 2-0 and with it usurped England as the No.1 rated Test team.

While Anderson and Stuart Broad claimed their wickets at a cost of 40.66 and 39.72 apiece respectively, Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn claimed theirs for 23.66 and 29.20. Graeme Swann claimed only four wickets in the two Tests he played at an eye-watering cost of 77 runs apiece.

"It was a huge wake-up call for this bowing attack," Anderson admitted. "When you get to No.1 you can start believing your own hype and your own press. When people say you are a great bowling attack you can start believing that and this is a huge wake-up call in this series.

"We have been truly out-bowled in this series and it shows we have a lot of work to do. Maybe we have got a long way to go."

Despite the defeat, Anderson insisted that Andrew Strauss remained the man to lead England. While England's captain endured a grim series, averaging just 17.83 and looking increasingly jaded by the Kevin Pietersen debacle, Anderson said the entire dressing room - sans Pietersen - were united in support of Strauss and would back him "to the hilt".

"Andrew Strauss has been pivotal in everything we have achieved," Anderson said. "He is a huge part of our team. As players I can speak for everyone and say we hope he carries on for a few more years yet. Straussy has got so much respect as a captain and a leader. We all very much respect his decisions and we will back him to the hilt with whatever he and the ECB decides to do over the Kevin Pietersen issue.

"It was Straussy's 100th Test match and you could see how much he still loved being in the dressing room. Now we have lost the No.1 spot I am sure he is very hungry to get us back there."

Anderson struggled to explain England's disappointing form in the series against South Africa, but conceded that the mindset of being No.1 rather than chasing that status may have been a contributory factor.

"There is a slightly different mentality when you are trying to get to No.1 rather than being No.1," he said. "Teams have a different approach towards how they play against you and maybe we needed a different mindset to the one we had. We have not quite got it right whatever it might be.

"Perhaps we have let our standards slip as Straussy said after the game. If you do that you are going to come under pressure.

"I don't think we have shown any complacency. The one thing that got us to No.1 in the world was striving for constant improvement. We were always trying to be better and maybe we rested on our laurels a little bit. We didn't try and keep improving as we had done in previous years.

"I think we were better when we were trying to get to No.1. We were better when we were chasing. We know how to do that."

Anderson remained confident that England could reclaim the top spot, though. He felt that the success of younger players such as Steven Finn and Jonny Bairstow promised much for the future

"We have made some steps forward," Anderson said. "Steven Finn has done a great job since he came in. The spell on the fourth day at Lord's was one of the best spells of bowling I have seen in a Test. It is exciting from that point of view, but we know we have got to do a lot of improving if we want to get back to that No.1 spot.

"We got to No.1 in the world with this team and Straussy leading this team. I don't see why we can't do it again. Especially with a couple of new guys coming in it is an important phase letting them settle into the team. I thought JB was exceptional this week and he showed real signs of being a world class player. It is exciting we have guys like that coming into the team. We know what it takes to get there so hopefully we can do it again.

"Could we do it without Kevin Pietersen? I don't see why not. We have seen we have talented guys coming through. If he doesn't play Test cricket against it would be a huge loss because he is such a devastating player but I don't see why we can't. We have enough talent there to get back to No.1.

"The starting point is India. It is a tough place to start but it an exciting challenge. If you want to be No.1 in the world you have to win in India, so why not start there?"

Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, is the title sponsor of Test Match cricket in England. Visit the Investec Cricket Zone at for player analysis, stats, test match info and games.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on August 24, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    @desi-blue on (August 23 2012, 23:31 PM GMT) We'll have to see how it all unfolds. I trust our bowlers much more than our batsmen for sure. The one thing we have got in our favour is that there is so much less expectation than before the UAE series where our batsmen looked petrified. If we lose it's kind of expected ,if we win it will be a great confidence builder. I feel our best (possibly only) chance is to go 5/1/5 with 2 spinners (Swann and Monty or another) and 3 pacemen - my 3 would be Woakes as an all rounder plus Onions and Jimmy. I'm not so bothered about who is in our bowling line up but I see our best opportunity is to try and outbowl India (taking more wickets cheaper) than outscore India. I believe if we continue with 6/1/4 our task becomes even tougher

  • Scott on August 24, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    @wablo - I think you'll find that drought was caused by Australia being a far superior team and making the other sides look like they were lacking in talent. Think you need to take another look at exactly how Australia rose to the top... Also, we were dominant through the most part of the 00's too. The deposition was one of our own making as our players retired - the same ones that caused you to believe there was a drought... :) For all of Englands posturing in recent years, they've only really had one decent series against Aus in the last 4, the rest they barely managed to scrape by and after looking back at '09 (especially the stats), I'm still baffled as to how England actually won that series. thing is, once Engl beat Aus so convinvingly in Aus, you thought you'd started on your trip to greatness. Funny thing is, England didn't really play all that well and Aus were all over the place making them look a whole lot better than they actually were - as we're all starting to see..

  • stephan on August 24, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    @Meety:Again that's your opinion..don't quite agree with it,but respect it nonetheless..(btw Randiv???..didn't see that quite sure about the whole IND not having a half decent spinner comment..but I guess it's par for the course..especially since I don't think that you have seen much of Ashwin or Ojha in action..anyway I still think they will do fairly well..also ENG'S issues with spin seems as much mental as it does physical ie-Technique..(just an unqualified guess mind you)

  • Jeremy on August 24, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    It will be a very interesting series in IND - anybody who thinks ENG cannot win may be reading too much in to their recent "slump" in form. I still stand by my earlier comments - ENG can win it 2-0, but they must start the series well. If they start poorly, IND will get on a roll in home conditions, and it'll be very tough to battle back. That young IND batsmen, Pujara (I think) looked very good against NZ, he has a good, solid technique - he could prove troublesome for the ENG bowlers.

  • Rahul on August 24, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    I can feel for poor guy Swan who will be thrashed by indians

  • Rahul on August 24, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    India has won series drawn series in last 10 years in ENG but Wt ENG has achieved in India in test an odi they can't even win in bangladesh forget abt India an I think swan will never play again after India series

  • Mathew on August 24, 2012, 3:16 GMT

    Desi_blue. I actually agree that Eng have made ok spinners look very good. I am hoping that Eng have learnt a few lessons since then. Also the fact that Ind don't have even a half decent spinner should help. Simply put Eng will be fielding the best 2 spinners on the park. The only Ind avg's that will be going up is their bowlers (if that is possible). For those that are bound to mention our past failings with previous teams I can tell you that you are right, those teams have struggled against those Ind teams....THIS Eng side vs THAT Ind side we are 4-0 up.

  • cassiano on August 24, 2012, 2:02 GMT

    Anderson is right - the best place to start is India to get back to number one- The english team can only start in India - they will not get anywhere near to number one again-cause the start will never end. They have lost the only match winner they had in the side.

  • Mathew on August 24, 2012, 1:31 GMT

    Eng will be thrashed by Ind!!!!!! Really? Although you have just lost 8-0 (6 by an innings) we have lost one test match by an innings since Wally hammond retired or there abouts. In your wildest dreams will Ind thrash Eng. They may end up beating them (but i doubt it) but i can tell you, see what odds you get for 4-0 (3 by an inngs for Ind). More likely we win every match we win the toss and draw the others. If you want a good laugh check out your bowlers avg's.

  • Andrew on August 24, 2012, 1:24 GMT

    @desi-blue - you may well be right re: Ashwin & Ojha - but the reality is that those 2 bowlers are NOT as good as Rehman, Ajmal, Herath & Randiv atm. India need the Turbanator at his best! @jg2704 - I think England winning the series is not as unlikely as some may think. It will depend on the spinners (assuming tandem approach), Swann needs to be fit because he'll be bowling plenty of overs. The more I think about it, the more I think Bresnan needs to be in the starting XI instead of Broad or Finn, (assuming Woakes gets a nod), the bowling would be Anderson, Broad, Panesar, Swann & Woakes. I think Bresnan will keep motoring all day & keep a tighter line than Broad. I think he'll bustle them more too!

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