Anderson eager for pace and bounce
James Anderson has welcomed the suggestion that Australia will prepare relatively helpful pitches for seamers in the forthcoming Ashes series.
After England prevailed 3-0 at home on surfaces that were generally low and slow, it has been suggested in some quarters that the pitches in Australia will provide far more encouragement to the home side's seamers. The groundsman at the Gabba, Kevin Mitchell, told the Courier Mail that his pitch would be "pretty different" from those used in England and would "definitely have a tinge of green" in it, while Darren Lehmann, the Australia coach, promised pitches that would "speed up" and where "those nicks will carry and you'll be able to bowl them out quicker."
But while Australia's seamers may well prefer their home conditions, they will also be to the liking of England's. And, bearing in mind that England's opening seamers currently sit at No. 1 (Stuart Broad with 45 wickets) and No. 2 (Anderson with 41) in the Test wickets tally for 2013, Anderson is confident that England have the bowlers to exploit any assistance. Graeme Swann, England's offspinner, is at No. 4 in the table.
"We'll love it if the pitches are more helpful," Anderson told ESPNcricinfo at a Slazenger event. "Over the last few years, wickets around the world have become flatter and flatter. And in England they've gone especially flat.
"So to go somewhere where they produce something in them for bowlers, we'll be delighted. It's 100% a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully with the bowling unit we've picked, we'll be able to make the most of it."
While Anderson accepted that conditions in Australia were slightly different, he felt that the experience of England's attack rendered them well prepared.
"Yes, they use a different ball in Australia, but it's not a huge deal," he said. "We use the Kookaburra ball loads of places and, although it's slightly different, the white ball we use in England is a Kookaburra and feels the same in the hand.
"The last time we went there, in 2010-11, the wickets had a bit in them for bowlers and I enjoyed it a lot. It doesn't swing for a huge amount of time, so having other weapons, such as reverse and consistency, is very important. Quite a few of us have played out there before, so I wouldn't anticipate too many surprises."
Anderson was particularly effusive in his praise for his new ball partner Broad, suggesting that, aged 27, he has time to improve further in the months ahead, and in Swann who, he felt, was likely to play a key role in the series, even if the pitches are designed to negate his bowling.
"People forget how young Broad is," Anderson said. "So he has time on his side. But it's great to have someone who can run through a side the way he does at times.
"Yes, he can blow a bit hold and cold, but what you see at the moment is that spells he showed against New Zealand at Lord's and Australia at Durham will become more frequent and the spells in between will be more steady. He's aiming for more consistency and he's getting there.
"The guys in the team know how important Graeme Swann is to us. Even if the pitch doesn't turn, he bowls that attacking line outside off stump and there aren't many orthodox offspinners that are brave enough to do that. He does an incredible job with the bat and at second slip."
And Anderson had encouraging words for Graham Onions, who missed out on selection despite being the most impressive seamer in county cricket for the second season in succession.
"He's unfortunate to miss out," Anderson said. "I've experienced that, too, and it's tough to take. It's really tough on him.
"But if I was him, I'd try and find a positive angle. He's going to South Africa to play domestic cricket so I'd recommend he focuses on that. Then, if there are any injuries among our bowling unit, he could be in a better position than some of the people who were picked originally. He would be match fit and he could fly straight in to the side."
James Anderson will be using the Slazenger V100 ULTIMATE TAS bat during this winter's Ashes series, part of the new 2014 Slazenger cricket range available to pre-order in November. For more information on the Slazenger range for 2014 visit Store.slazenger.com
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo