For those who would constantly rest fast bowlers while wrapping them in cotton wool, Jimmy Anderson had a message yesterday. “I think I need another game, I think I need to get more miles in my legs,” he said.
It was by way of Anderson’s personal plea to be allowed to play in England’s match against Australia A which starts at the former Bellerive Oval tomorrow. As the leader of the attack and its most important component, he is likely to have his way unless the management and their advisers think the final warm-up game in Sydney next week might be a wiser option. That match finishes five days before the start of the first Test of the Ashes series in Brisbane.
“You can bowl as much as you want in the nets,” said Anderson. “But actually getting the overs in your legs, and having a second and third spell through the day, and having to stay out in the field, is a completely different feeling. Then trying to bowl again in the morning, when you can barely get out of bed, is something you need to get used to again.”
Anderson was the only one of the four England fast bowlers to be bang on the button in the opening match in Perth last week. With Stuart Broad, his Test opening partner, certain to play, it is possible that England may not wish to show too much of their hand at this stage.
Several of Australia’s A batsmen are in contention for the Test team, but then, given the lack of direction and recent success, that is probably true of almost all the country’s professional cricketers. George Bailey, hotly tipped to make a debut, is not on duty, but his fellow Tasmanian, Alex Doolan, is in the team.
Doolan, who is 28 later this month and from Launceston like both Bailey and Ricky Ponting, is in prime form. He made a century in the opening Sheffield Shield match last week, which followed a splendid 2012-13 season.
“I’m sure it is my big chance,” he said yesterday. “It’s no secret the Australian team hasn’t been performing the way everyone would’ve liked. So I’m lucky I’m in the boat with quite a few others and fortunate to be playing this game against England, whether this is my one and only chance I don’t know.”
As well as Broad, England will bring in Alastair Cook, the captain, Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen for their first appearances of the tour.
Matt Prior, who stood in for Cook as captain in last week’s curtain-raiser, was aware of the shortcomings. He said: “It was important to get the cobwebs out with that first game. There was gradual improvement over the three days and against Australia A so we have to improve again on the pitch. We are here to win games of cricket.”