As Australia retreat to the seaside to try and patch up their desperate confidence with a three-day game against Sussex beginning on Friday, they do so accompanied by a marked lack of sympathy for their plight from their opponents and a piece of advice from one former stalwart of the dominance of the Steve Waugh era that cannot have come easily – Australia must learn from England.
Memories of Ashes hidings past remain too strongly embedded among England’s senior players to afford any concern for Australia’s disintegration at Lord’s. Asked whether he had any sympathy for the hole in which Australia find themselves, James Anderson replied: “No, none.”
“We want to win the series 5-0 so we will be doing everything we can to win those games,” continued Anderson. “I don’t really feel anything for them to be honest. Memories like [the whitewash of 2006-07] have helped us, certainly in the last couple of Ashes. I’m sure they will in this one. It’s not a great place to be as a team, being on the end of one of those defeats.
“We are happy with the cricket we are playing. There are improvements we can make. We were 30 for 3 in both innings at Lord’s. We have not been perfect with the ball either so we can still improve there but at the same time when we have been in tough positions we have got ourselves out of it. That’s a real big positive we can take.”
Australia’s tail-enders have caused England more problems than their top order – the last wicket has averaged 41.5 in the first two Tests, the highest of the 10 Australian wickets. “[Bowling at the tail-enders is] an area where we can improve – those 10th-wicket partnerships are a pain in the backside,” admitted Anderson.
Damien Martyn, who played 67 Tests under Waugh and Ricky Ponting, pointed to the example set by Joe Root as one that Australia’s young batsmen have to follow, although he believes there is no choice but to stick with the majority of the side drubbed at Lord’s – this is the chance to make or break their careers.
“[Root] did a great thing. That was a great innings he batted,” said Martyn, like Anderson speaking at a sponsors event where they both test drove the new Jaguar XFR-S – Anderson was quicker. “We have got to get back to playing Test cricket, whether we lose or not, but just fighting out the match, guys batting for a long time and taking a look at what Ian Bell and Joe Root are doing at the moment, just batting, getting back to old school Test cricket.
“I would play these guys for the rest of the series. There are no miracles out there. We play this team and then at the end of these Ashes we judge them. It’s the Allan Border theory – find guys who are mentally tough enough to fight. Let them play, let them have their chance.”