James Anderson voiced his disappointment after an awe-inspiring England fightback with the ball, in which he claimed his second-best innings figures in Australia, was ruined by the loss of four wickets during an immensely happening final hour of play on day two at the MCG.
England’s bowlers limited Australia to 267 with a disciplined display of bowling perfect line and length, conceding a first-innings lead of 82 – but saw much of their hard work undone by double strikes from Mitchell Starc and Scott Boland, as the visitors returned to the dressing room on 31 for 4. However, Anderson didn’t go into details on another top-order batting failure, stressing that “we’re a team here and we’re all working hard to get better”.
England lost Zak Crawley and Dawid Malan to consecutive Starc deliveries in the fifth over, before Haseeb Hameed edged Boland behind with just a few minutes left in the day. That left England’s average for their top three in 2021 at 21.33 – the third-lowest for a calendar year (minimum ten Tests) – and with hopes of setting Australia a target in the fourth innings once again resting on the shoulders of their captain, Joe Root. But Anderson remained supportive of the efforts being put in by the batting group, defending their failures citing incredible bowling display by the hosts.
Batters are working hard to put things right – Anderson
“Disappointing,” he said of how events played out. “Firstly, on the bowling front, I thought we did really well to stick at our task throughout the day. We talked a lot about the lengths we want to hit and the pressure we want to create, and I thought we were really good at that, created a lot of chances, put a lot of balls in the right areas, and got the rewards.
“We were pretty pleased with 260 . If we’re being honest, in the first innings we should have got somewhere near that if not more. It certainly felt possible on that wicket. And we knew it’s a new-ball wicket as well, it felt like it did less as the ball got older, as the day went on and some more sun got on the pitch it felt like it did a lot less. So we knew that last 12 overs was going to be tough, with the new ball, but even so to lose four wickets was really disappointing.
“I thought the spell from Starc and [Pat] Cummins was outstanding, but that’s what you expect, they are world-class bowlers and they have done it in Test cricket for many, many years. So it shouldn’t take anyone by surprise that they bowled like that. But yeah, disappointed to lose four wickets in that period.”
“And all I can see from the batting group is how hard they are working to put things right. It can be very difficult, certainly in foreign conditions against a class bowling attack it can be difficult. So I don’t want to get into too much of a bowlers versus batters thing, we’re a team here and we’re all working hard to try and get better.”