James Anderson admitted England have “not done themselves justice” in the Ashes but feels that, despite the result, plans for a “big upheaval” should be resisted.
England were thrashed by an innings and 123 runs in Sydney – their second innings defeat of the series to go with a 10-wicket drubbing in Brisbane – as Australia won the five-match series 4-0.
But while he admitted England had “not dealt with pressure situations” as well as Australia, Anderson insisted the team had progressed over the last 18-months and it didn’t feel as if it had been “a completely disastrous series.”
So while the last unsuccessful Ashes tour ended the England careers of several long-serving players and coaches – notably Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Andy Flower – Anderson feels such reactions would be unhelpful on this occasion. And while he has been mildly critical of the backroom staff at some stages of this tour his parting words suggested they had been “brilliant”, “fantastic and “can’t do enough” for the players.
“We’ve not been blown away in every game,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t feel like a completely disastrous series. It doesn’t feel like a series where there should be a big upheaval like other series which have been absolutely disastrous. It doesn’t feel like that.
“I do think it’s been closer than 4-0. We’ve been on top in some games, if not all the games at some stage.
“We are hurting and we know we’ve got to improve in a lot of areas. I’m sure everyone will be looking at themselves in the mirror over the next few weeks.
“But yes, I think we do have the right group in charge. And I think we have improved in the last 18 months. We’ve definitely made strides in the right direction.”
“I think the support we’ve had from the backroom staff has been brilliant. They can’t do enough for us. They’re just tirelessly working behind the scenes to try to get us ready for games, and I think they’ve done a fantastic job.”
Key to the result, Anderson believed, was England’s inability to handle key moments. In particular, he felt England’s batsmen had failed to score the match-defining totals that were required and the bowlers had failed to “create enough pressure.”
“We’ve not done ourselves justice throughout the series,” Anderson said. “We’ve played well in patches, but when you play quality opposition like Australia in the tough environment that Australia is, you can’t perform in little bits and pieces. You have to be consistent. They have won those crucial moments that the match pivots upon.
“Getting 60 or 70 with the bat is not good enough. You’ve got to on and get big hundreds as they have. And with the ball, it’s all very well bowling well individually for 15 overs or 20 overs. But the period between 25 and 30 overs can be the key overs for a bowler. You’ve got to try to stay at your best in those periods and I don’t think we’ve done that.
“The pitches have not really suited our bowling. They’ve been slow and we’ve come up against a batting line-up that is patient and mentally tough. We don’t have an X-factor bowler like Pat Cummins or Mitchell Starc. We don’t have that sort of pace. We’ve not bowled well enough for long periods of time – and I include myself in that – to create pressure. We’ve bowled well at times, but we’ve not done it for five days and this is the price you pay.
“There were stages of each game that we were on top. But we’ve not managed to kick on and actually be really ruthless in those situations. And then they’ve managed to get back in the game and when the pressure has been put back on us we’ve not coped with it very well.
“Man-for-man, we’ve got the skill and the ability to beat Australia, but it’s about trying to perform in those pressurised situations, which we’ve not done well.”
While Anderson, now aged 35, knows the decision might be taken out of his control – either by injury or by selectors – he remains determined this Ashes series should not be his last. Standing in at the post-match captain’s press conference after Joe Root was indisposed by illness, he reiterated his desire to feature in the 2019 series in England.
“I’ll do everything I can to be available for that series,” he said. “I’ve loved bowling in this series. It’s not been my most fruitful in terms of wickets, but I’ve given it everything and my body has coped. My speeds have been good on the whole.
“Obviously I don’t pick the team. I can’t say I’m definitely going to be there. But I’m absolutely determined. I’m still as hungry as ever.”