For Jimmy Anderson yesterday there were no excuses. He did not seek to blame others for England's disappointment in losing the Investec Test series against South Africa.
He absolved the absent rapscallion Kevin Pietersen from any responsibility for the defeat in the thrilling third Test, which ensured a 2-0 result in favour of the tourists and an exchange of places in the ICC Test rankings. South Africa are the new No 1, England have slipped to No 2 and it could become much worse if they lose away to India this autumn.
Somewhere along the line, it has gone horribly wrong for the team in which Anderson, as the fast bowler who leads the attack, was instrumental in taking to the stars. Since then, they have been plummeting back to earth with six defeats in 11 Test matches this year.
"There is a slightly different mentality when you are trying to get to No 1 rather than being No 1," said Anderson yesterday as England's demotion sunk in. "Teams have different approaches towards how they play against you and maybe we needed a different mindset to the one we had. We have not quite got it right whatever it might be."
Anderson gave unequivocal support to Andrew Strauss, the captain of this team for almost four years, whose position is now under the closest scrutiny. He had a wretched series with the bat, scoring 107 runs in six innings, and committed the cardinal sin of getting out after getting in. He is also at odds with Pietersen, whose influence on the team continues to be baleful after his dropping.
Anderson said: "To be honest, Straussy has got so much respect as a captain and a leader. We very much respect his decisions and we will back him to the hilt with whatever he and the ECB decides. He has been pivotal in everything we have achieved, he is a huge part of our team and bigger than people realised. As players I can speak for everyone and say we hope he carries on for a few more years yet."
He sounded as though he had been given leave by the dressing room to say precisely that.
The series has provided a salutary lesson to the bowlers, whose vaunted reputation has been severely diminished by the superior manner in which South Africa bowled.
"It was a huge wake-up call for this bowling attack," said Anderson. "Another thing that can detract from your performance when you get to No 1 [is that] you can start believing your own hype and own press. We have been truly outbowled in this series and it shows we have got a lot of work to do."
England also dropped nine catches over the three matches, including two vital ones in South Africa's second innings at Lord's on Saturday. Anderson said: "In the run-up to becoming No 1 we took those blinding catches that make you the best side, but we have not even held on to the simple ones in this series."Reuse content