We all hit our straps - Anderson
James Anderson is confident his preparation for the Brisbane Test will be spot on - even if England rest him and the remainder of the frontline attack for next week’s final warm-up match before the first Test.
Anderson shared seven South Australia wickets with Graeme Swann on the second day of England’s first-class fixture at the Adelaide Oval.
His 3-62 and Swann’s 4-68 helped the tourists bowl their hosts out for 221, before Andrew Strauss, who finished unbeaten on 56, and Alastair Cook then raced to 94 without loss second time round to extend England's lead to 161.
There are suggestions that England’s four-man Test attack will be spared the exertions of a four-day match against Australia A in Tasmania next week and instead be sent on to Queensland early to prepare for the start of the Ashes.
Anderson admits he and his fellow bowlers have not always been at their best, despite their success in this game and against Western Australia in Perth last week.
But he nonetheless appears to be in favour of an early arrival at the Gabba.
“I think I’d be fine going into that Test without playing at Hobart,” he said. “It gives us a nice break going into that first Test.
“We get acclimatised better to the conditions. I’m not sure Tasmania is going to be 30-odd degrees, which Brisbane could be, so that might be another bonus for us.
“I’ve bowled some reasonably long spells in the last couple of games, so I’ve got some decent overs under my belt.”
Anderson could reflect on another day when England’s build-up to their defence of the urn was again encouraging, but he disputed the suggestion that things are going almost too smoothly.
“I thought everyone hit their straps pretty well,” he added. “But I wouldn’t say it’s been that smooth - as bowlers, we’ve gone through some bad spells.
“I didn’t bowl great in the middle of my spells today, or as well as I would have liked, and I’m sure the other bowlers have had similar feelings.
“Although we’re getting the wickets, we’re still striving to improve. We can get even better before that first Test comes round.”
One bowler who continues to hog the wickets is Swann, who nipped out two cheap ones when he had Redbacks number 10 Ben Edmondson lbw and number 11 Peter George stumped.
But Swann had stuck to his task and could also boast the wicket of top-scorer Aiden Blizzard, who holed out sweeping to Anderson on the square-leg boundary one short of a fifty.
The off-spinner has a stellar billing to live up to this winter, standing as he does at the top of the world rankings for slow bowlers.
“It’s kind of expected that he’s going to bowl well,” said Anderson. “He’s had a great year, 18 months, and his form just continues to improve. He just seems to get better with every game.”
The same could be said for England’s opening partnership, Strauss hitting three leg-side sixes in his near run-a-ball 56 and the previously out-of-form Cook ably keeping him company in making 37.
They therefore improved very significantly on their stands of eight, 11 and 12 on this tour.
Anderson’s eye, meanwhile, was taken by the performance of another batsman - namely South Australia’s Ashes aspirant Callum Ferguson.
He caught everyone’s attention with his form in last year’s NatWest Series in England, won 6-1 by Australia.
Injury has kept him on the sidelines for many of the intervening months, but, after a first-class century on his recent return, he has been picked in the Australia A team to face England next week and is being touted by some as a possible member of the full Test squad, set to be picked on Monday.
His frenetic 35 today was not a particularly appropriate demonstration of his skills, and that is how Anderson appeared to see it too.
“It was an interesting innings if you’re trying to push to get in the Test side,” he said.
“It was pretty breezy - he played some attacking shots, but at the same time we thought we’d have a chance of getting him out.”