Anderson keen to re-focus
James Anderson is beginning to sense England could be on the verge of “great things” - but only if they keep their eye on the ball against India.
England’s pace spearhead believes the first npower Test win at Lord’s, in which his five second-innings wickets were a crucial contribution, was perhaps even a step up on what he and his team-mates achieved in last winter’s historic Ashes series success in Australia.
But as their hopes of usurping India at the top of the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings this summer become ever more realistic, Anderson warns England cannot afford to get carried away by the hype.
“Lord’s has gone now,” he said. “We enjoyed that last day, enjoyed winning.
“I think in that second innings, to create the pressure we did without the ball doing a great deal - I think a few kept low, but the wicket was still pretty good - was fantastic, and probably up there with Australia if not better than we performed in Australia.“
Another victory at Trent Bridge in the second match of four will put them bang on course to win this series 2-0 or better - an outcome that would put England top of the world for the first time since official rankings came into being.
Anderson has great belief in himself and his colleagues, but knows it would be easy to slip up against star-studded and hugely-motivated opponents.
“We’re concentrating completely on Friday morning and that first hour here,” the Lancashire seamer continued.
“If we keep playing good cricket and concentrate on the little things that get us there, we hope the end product will be becoming the number one team in the world. It’s an overriding goal, but it’s not something we go into each game thinking about.”
Anderson also has his eye on top spot in the ICC’s Test bowling rankings, having moved above team-mate Graeme Swann to second following the Lord’s Test.
Of the team's number-one pretensions compared to his own, he joked: “It’s not as important as overtaking Swanny - that is what I was focused on.”
On a more serious note, he added: “Our end goal as a team is to be number one in the world, and to do that we need individuals in the top 10. I’d love to be number one one day, but I’ve got a lot of work to do before then.”
Whatever his ranking, Anderson is happy with his own bowling at present.
“In the first innings at Lord’s I didn’t bowl very well - I bowled a bit wide but did bowl a good length,” he said. “I knew if I could hold my length and get my line better in the second innings I could cause some damage.
“The fact I could make that adjustment in the space of a couple of days really pleased me, and really showed me I’m in control of what I’m doing.”
Under Andrew Strauss’ captaincy and with Andy Flower as team director, England have discovered and maintained the knack of playing for each other.
“We know we’re playing really, really good cricket at the moment. Everyone’s chipping in - and if we need someone to step up generally someone is doing that, whether it’s Matt (Prior) and Broady [Stuart Broad] in the second innings (at Lord’s) with the bat or Broady with the ball," added Anderson.
“We’re trying to improve each day, as individuals and as a team. If we can do that, we know we can do great things.”
Anderson will lead the pace attack at a venue for which he has an uncanny liking, principally for the swing he has generated there.
“It’s nice to play at a ground where you’ve had success before. But on Friday I won’t be thinking about my past successes; I’ll be thinking about bowling well in this match against that Indian team," he said.
“It is helpful here when it swings and it generally does, but you can’t go into a game expecting it to swing. So we’ll prepare as if it’s not going to, and if it does that’s a bonus.”
In scenes reminiscent of Old Trafford in 2005 as England’s shock Ashes series victory began to take shape, there was not enough room at Lord’s two days ago to accommodate the thousands who flocked there to cheer the hosts on.
“We saw five days of a ground sold out. That’s exciting in itself - there’s not been many day fives in Test matches in England sold out in recent years, other than the Ashes," added Anderson.
“We hope people are getting excited about it, because we’re certainly getting excited about it.”
Anderson, up to second in the world rankings for Test bowlers, has often made it his business to see off India’s master batsman Sachin Tendulkar.
He has got him out out six times already in Test cricket, but does not necessarily see it as a specific part of his brief to add to that sequence.
“He’s obviously a key wicket for their team, similar to a (Ricky) Ponting for Australia,” he said. “When you get him out you know it’s a key dismissal, so we know we’ve got to be on top of our game to do that.
“He’s the sort of player who, I’m sure, isn’t thinking about that when he’s batting - and I’m not thinking about it when I’m bowling. I’m not bothered whether it’s me who comes out on top but I hope we do as a group.”
Whether it is Tendulkar or another member of India’s stellar cast who makes life difficult for England in Nottingham, Anderson expects a collective and significant reaction to their Lord’s defeat - irrespective of what his old coach Duncan Fletcher says to try to motivate his new world-beating charges.
He said: “I don’t think he needs to do anything. When we lose a Test match, as a professional sportsman there’s fight inside you that you don’t want it to happen again.
“We expect exactly the same thing from any team we play against. If we beat them we expect them to come back harder the next game.
“It’s down to the players really. It’s not really a coach’s job to get you back up - you should be able to do it yourself as a professional sportsman.”