James Anderson was delighted to prove there is life in England, and his record-breaking career too, as Joe Root’s team battled back bravely in Adelaide.
Anderson’s first five-wicket haul in Australia helped to sustain England’s revival in this second Ashes Test, and by the close on day four Root’s unbeaten 67 hauled the tourists to 176 for four as they bid for a new national-record run chase of 354 to level at 1-1.
There were also one or two of this series’ habitual confrontations along the way, as Australia’s sledger-in-chief Peter Handscomb engaged Root shortly before stumps – although both Anderson and the hosts’ bowling coach David Saker talked down the verbals after a titanic cricket battle had undoubtedly outshone any aggro.
Anderson has figures to savour at last down under, on his fourth Ashes trip.
“Obviously I’ve been here a few times and not got a five-for,” said the evergreen 35-year-old seamer, who relished his opportunity – initially under lights on Monday, after Australia did not enforce the follow-on.
“We were really annoyed with the way we played for the first couple of days, so we wanted to show what we could do. We didn’t do ourselves justice in those two innings with the ball or the bat.
“There was a lot of frustration, so we saw it as an opportunity to show we’ve got some fight and character.”
He had plenty of reason for satisfaction on a personal level too, especially after some early whispers on this tour that England’s seam-and-swing medium-fast bowlers cannot compete with the pace of their opposite numbers.
“People keep telling me I’m about to finish and retire, so I want to show them I can keep going and I’ve still got wickets in me – like I’ve shown this week,” he added, his career tally now 514. As long as I’m bowling well I’m going to keep playing. I absolutely love this game.”
Anderson caused a minor stir before this match when he equated Australia’s sledging to ‘bullying’ – but asked if there has been much further evidence of that, he said: “They’ve been fairly quiet … surprisingly.”
England do not pretend to be angels either, and Anderson allowed himself a moment to gloat a little about the success of his and Stuart Broad’s attempts at distracting Australia captain Steve Smith from his batting here.
“I think it did work, because we got him out quite cheaply,” he said. “Picking the right time to do that, getting someone out of their ‘bubble’ and unsettling them is a good thing.
“At that point of time, Steve seemed more interested in having a chat with me and Stuart than focusing on his job.”
Saker hopes, meanwhile, that no one allows the sledging sideshow to overshadow the highly-skilled contest.
“The sledging talk of the last few weeks disappoints me, because it takes away from how great Ashes series are,” he said.
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