James Anderson: Angry England bowler aims a few arrows at critics

England bowler tells Matt Fearon that Broad controversy should not detract from latest Ashes glory

How would you celebrate winning the Ashes and becoming England's second highest wicket taker in Test cricket history: a night in Boujis with Cristal champagne and the boys, a convertible supercar or a watch chunky enough to break wrists? If you're James Anderson, it turns out the answer is none of the above.

"I've built a vegetable patch in my back garden; I'm actually more stiff now from gardening than I am from the cricket." That revelation brings us neatly on to the controversial subject of watering The Kia Oval grass. According to The Ecologist magazine, "urine makes for a surprisingly good fertiliser"… But Anderson won't be drawn any further on the issue of the properties of urine and so we move on.

The 31-year-old Lancastrian is, though, in reflective mood when we meet in a warehouse in Salford just a misdirected bouncer away from his Burnley birthplace. But first he wants to get something off his chest.

"Without dragging it up – the stuff about walking – I find it a little bit hypocritical of some ex-players to comment on it," says Anderson leaning forward, bristling as if at the top of his run-up. "You watch a lot of cricket back then and they never walked."

The incident that has raised Anderson's ire was the media reaction to Stuart Broad's refusal to walk on the third day of the first Test. At the time, former West Indian fast bowler and Sky Sports commentary box veteran Michael Holding led calls for Broad to be suspended. Nonsense, says his new-ball partner.

"I've watched the Ashes channel and even last night Nasser Hussain smashed one and didn't walk. There was a big hoo-ha about it and the commentator's saying that it's his right. You can't then all of sudden change your mind and say it's wrong for another person to stand there."

In defence of the "ex-players", most of the moralising came from within the ranks of the written press for whom the heat of a Test-match battle was only ever a distant dream. And to be fair to the aforementioned Hussain, he had this to say about Broad's refusal to walk: "I thought it took incredible courage for Broad to stay there like that – the audacity of the man."

So James, what about the players' so-called "wider responsibility to the game"? "At the end of the day, we're trying to win a game of cricket," is his curt response. Anderson later admits, "Cooky [Alastair Cook] did tell me once that if I'm grumpy at breakfast then he knows that I'm going to bowl well that day." If that is the case then pity the Strongbow drinker who that afternoon had the misfortune to earn the chance to face six of the best from England's record-breaking paceman.

The description "grumpy" does Anderson a disservice, he's more like temporarily indignant. For the rest of the interview, he relaxes back in his chair; considers each question like a nightwatchman measuring the merits of each ball in the day's final over; he does not bristle but relaxes like a man with more international wickets than any other Englishman – dead or alive – and three successive Ashes victories to his name.

"I've gone full circle in this England team," Anderson says. "2006-07 in Australia, all just bad memories [England were whitewashed 5-0]; 2009, we weren't really expected to win [England won 2-1]; 2010-11 we hadn't won in Australia for 24 years and though people thought we had a good chance, they never actually expected us to win [England won 3-1]; and, this series has been different in that respect, everyone just thought we were going to wipe the floor with them. It's been another challenge for us to set our own expectations."

And did you live up to your own expectations? "I know that I can perform better than I did, more consistently, and that's exciting as there's a few players, me included, that can say that about themselves."

There was at least one spell when Anderson bowled as well as he knows he can and it set the tone for the whole of the Ashes: England winning crucial sessions through spells of individual excellence. On the last day of the first Test at Trent Bridge, he claimed three wickets before lunch – all caught at first slip – for 29 runs from 13 uninterrupted overs. He then returned after a feed to seal an England win by just 14 runs with his 10th wicket of the Test. Anderson recalls it like it was.

"I got into a really good rhythm early on with the old ball. Then, five overs into my spell I got the new ball, it's not often that you get to do that as generally you've got others guys bowling with the old ball until the new ball comes.

"I felt like I was going to get a wicket with every ball. When you're in that frame of mind you just want the captain to keep you on and luckily for me he did. As it went on, we'd just look at each other at the end of each over, Alastair would be like 'do you want one more?' and I'd be like, 'yeah, I want one more'. It just carried on like that at the end of every over, just one more, just one more, just one more."

That "one more" refrain has become "no more", for now. Anderson has been rested from the five-match one-day series against Australia that starts this Friday.

"It's frustrating that the schedule is so jam-packed," he says. "No one likes missing cricket but it's good that I've now got a chance to recharge and reflect on what we achieved and also look forward."

What cannot be improved, according to Anderson, is England's sledging: "When it comes to the verbals, we used it pretty well this series. I think our job in Australia will be to keep them as quiet as possible."

The tongue sharpening can wait for November's first Test in Brisbane. For now Anderson's only job is to sharpen his trowel and tend to that vegetable patch.

Strongbow are challenging the nation to EARN IT. To step up and take part in a challenge go to: strongbow.com

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits