James Anderson insists England’s sole intent to retain the Ashes means there will be no partying round Australia this winter.
The tourists’ senior seamer predicts they will be ‘galvanised’ by Australia’s sledging of Jonny Bairstow as they try to battle back from 1-0 down in Adelaide.
Unfazed by their hosts’ tactics, Anderson reports they are not concerned either by the midnight tour curfew imposed after uproar broke out over Bairstow’s strange ‘head-butt’ greeting for Australia opener Cameron Bancroft.
The England wicketkeeper used the unconventional yet benign gesture to introduce himself to Bancroft for the first time in a Perth bar a month ago.
Unwittingly, he opened himself up to ridicule when Australia decided to remind him about it while he was batting in the second innings of the first Test.
The tactic, picked up on stump mic, led to a ruling by England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss that his players should not stay out so late again here.
But Anderson said: “It is not like we are party animals, out till three every night.
“Our focus is showing what we can do with a cricket bat and ball in our hands.”
It will only help him, and team-mates such as Bairstow, focus even harder if Australia keep trying to put them off their game.
“When someone is trying to get under my skin in all walks of life it makes me more determined to succeed,” Anderson added.
“It is up to us individually and as a group to stick together and know that we are not here to roll over.”
None of the chat which accompanied England’s 10-wicket defeat in Brisbane surprised Anderson.
“It’s up to us to try to deal with that, ignore it … if anything it will galvanise us as a group,” he said.
“We’re all going to get behind Jonny, who is an important player in our team.
“If we need any more incentive to get back in the series, it will give us that.”
England are still having to contend with another vexed topic, which has persisted all tour over Ben Stokes’ possible addition to the squad – depending on whether he is charged by police following his arrest in September on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm during a late-night fracas in Bristol.
The brilliant all-rounder is scheduled to resume playing, after signing for Canterbury Kings in New Zealand, but any resolution to his Ashes hopes appears as far away as ever.
After the case was passed by police to the Crown Prosecution Service, Anderson reiterated the stance England’s players have taken from the outset.
“It’s out of our hands,” he said.
“It’s not something we really think about.
“You don’t not talk about it deliberately – it just doesn’t come up.
“We are really focused on trying to win this Test series, and it’s important we do focus on that – because any distractions outside our group will probably inhibit that.”