Anderson predicts tough task for England
James Anderson is expecting a tough challenge for England to remain the No. 1 Test side in the world as they prepare to return to action in January. The team travel to UAE to play Pakistan early next year before a two-Test series against Sri Lanka in March.
It will be the first time England will play a Test match in the Middle East and Anderson believes England will need to adapt quickly to the conditions to be successful with their opponents having an inside track on what to expect.
"Pakistan played Sri Lanka over there recently and played really well and won the series," Anderson told ESPNcricinfo. "They're used to those conditions now but we've never played a Test match over there so it will be a new challenge for us and we'll see how we cope with that.
"We've had challenges before. We went to Australia and won there, so we'll be confident. We'll look to see how we're going to take 20 wickets because that will be difficult and crucial for us; the spinners might play a big part"
Anderson, with fellow England bowlers Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett and Graham Onions, is heading out to South Africa with the England performance squad for a training camp ahead of the Test series as England look to preserve their status as the world's best Test team.
"It's been our goal to become number one in the world and we've got there sooner than we thought we would," he said. "Next year is going to be really tough for us. Getting to No. 1 is one thing but staying there is a completely different task."
Anderson was also the latest player to throw his weight behind the five-day game. "Test cricket, for most players, is the pinnacle. Obviously when you see games going on abroad with crowds not looking that great it does get quite worrying but I'm sure it's something that will be addressed and will work itself out in a few years."
While Graeme Swann recently suggested scrapping ODIs to preserve Test cricket, Anderson believes more five-Test series between the top sides could generate more interest. "When there's a five match series against Australia it's really exciting and goes down to the wire and the best team wins," he said. "The Ashes over the last few years have been really exciting cricket and it's keeping people interested, they still want to come back and see Test cricket."
Anderson also feels that a balance needs to be struck in the preparation of pitches for Test matches. "In the English summer the pitches had a little bit in them for the bowlers but if you bat well enough you can score big runs which we did," he said. "Organisers are going to want five days of cricket for the gate receipts but at the same time people want to see exciting cricket so the pitches need to be result pitches."
England begin a three-Test series against Pakistan in Dubai on January 17 before a two-Test series in Sri Lanka starting on March 26.