Assured Anderson flying high
James Anderson admits his self-belief is higher than ever after he led England into a strong position on the opening day of the second Ashes Test.
Anderson finished with exceptional figures of 4-51 as Australia were bowled out for 245 in seemingly ideal batting conditions at the Adelaide Oval.
After Ricky Ponting won the toss and Simon Katich was run out without facing a ball, it was Anderson who put Australia in serious trouble with wickets in each of his first two overs.
He could not get the in-form Mike Hussey out - Graeme Swann’s expert off-spin and Paul Collingwood’s safe hands at slip were required for that, after the left-hander had made 93 - but Anderson did see off Ponting for a first-ball duck in the home captain’s 150th Test.
He was also too good for Michael Clarke, and eventually Shane Watson - returning with the old ball on a glorious afternoon to limit an Australian total which included a third half-century, from Brad Haddin.
From two for three after three overs, Australia were perhaps thankful for small mercies. But England, who closed on one without loss from one over, are ideally placed on a traditionally even surface.
For that, they had Anderson largely to thank. He attacked with the new ball and was prepared to play the patience game later on, all with precious few easy runs conceded.
All this is coming from a bowler who suffered more than most on England’s last Test tour of Australia - when he mustered just five wickets at an average of 82.6.
Asked to pinpoint what has changed since then, the 28-year-old said: “Practice ... I’ve got more confident certainly, in my ability,” he said.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence the last few years, realised where I can get to and how much better I can still get.
“I’m a much different bowler to the one who came out here four years ago.
“I think I’m much more experienced and I’ve gradually got better over the last few years, so it’s nice to bowl well out here.”
Prior to this winter’s series, much had been written about Anderson’s ability to master the use of the Kookaburra ball.
But he added: “I didn’t think I had anything to prove. The new ball out here is obviously more crucial - there’s obviously a window where it swings.
“But I think one thing we’ve shown as a bowling group the last couple of innings is that we don’t need the ball to swing to bowl well.”
Neither was Anderson about to mope about finishing with only two wickets in Brisbane last week, where he bowled a number of excellent spells without reward.
“I tried to put the Gabba out of my mind,” he explained. I did bowl well there. I felt I bowled really well there, but the worst thing to do would be to feel sorry for yourself and not bowl well here.
“So I just wanted to continue the form I felt I was in - and I think I did that.”
Anderson was especially proud to have got Ponting out two matches in succession.
“He’s a fantastic cricketer,” he said. "All bowlers want to get the best players in the world out, and I think he’s one of the best players in the world.”