The Ashes 2021-22 – James Anderson calls on ECB to ‘redress the balance’ between formats


England’s leading wicket-taker says county pitches must improve

James Anderson has called for English cricket to “redress the balance” between red- and white-ball formats, throwing his weight behind Joe Root’s demand for a “reset” in priorities.

“It’s a big part of where the game is at in our country right now that the only place you can really learn [to play Test cricket] is in the hardest environment for what is quite a young batting group,” he said. “You look back at 2015 and the reset that happened in white-ball cricket, and maybe that’s something that needs to be happening in our red-ball game as well.”

Anderson, speaking to reporters at England’s optional training session in Melbourne on Thursday following another round of PCR tests, echoed Root’s comments and admitted that England’s recent performances had been “inconsistent”.

“What I will say is, I think that there has been a big push with white-ball cricket since the 2015 World Cup,” Anderson said. “So I just would like to think that maybe the balance between red- and white-ball cricket is there, going forward. At the minute, it’s tipped slightly towards white-ball, and it has been for the last few years.

“If you look at our performances in Test cricket over the last few years, they’ve been pretty inconsistent. So, from that point of view we can hopefully just redress that balance a little bit.”

The standard of the county game has come under fire in the early stages of the inquest into England’s defeat but Anderson denied that it had dropped since his first-class debut in 2002. However, having taken 41 first-class wickets at 8.87 for Lancashire since the start of 2019, he suggested that the standard of pitches has dropped in recent years.

“I don’t think [the standard has dropped],” he said. “There’s a bit more cricket now, I guess. There are more competitions to think about.

“I think that the one thing for me is that potentially the wickets aren’t as good as they used to be. You see a lot more result pitches now in county cricket. So perhaps, with the bigger picture, that’s something we can think about in the future.”

Anderson also gave Root his backing to continue as captain and said that England would need to “block out what’s happening off the field” in the final two Tests, with seven members of the wider touring party testing positive for Covid-19 in recent days.

“Everyone thinks so highly of him [Root],” he said. “Not just as a bloke but as a cricketer, and as a captain. So yes, hopefully he will continue.

“We are just hoping it’s not spreading any further and we can make sure everyone is safe and able to travel to Sydney. We’re trying to control the spread as much as possible and use the safety protocols around the hotel.

“It’s not ideal but it’s been that sort of tour. Something has been happening all the time. We have to restore some pride and try and compete – that’s our main focus as players. We have to block out what’s happening off the field and focus on the fourth and fifth Tests.

“It can be difficult at times, especially for guys experiencing the Ashes for the first time who are not that experienced with Test cricket and touring. That’s where the more senior players come in, we have to try and rally round, make sure everyone is in a good place and a good headspace.”

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