For those who can’t be bothered to play a video, James Anderson says, while basically in tears:
“We’ve tried our hearts out this series; all the bowlers bowled brilliantly. Man of the Series could have gone to any number of people.”
The bit in bold struck me. Does he really believe that? I’m sure they tried hard, but the match was lost in the Sri Lankan second innings. Sure, England’s middle to lower order ought to have given us a greater first innings lead and failed to do so by collapsing poorly, but it was still a significant lead. When Anderson, Jordan and Broad bowled utter piss from one end, Cook failed to trust the man picked as “the spin option” from the other. Liam Plunkett did well, granted, but the bowling unit let the side down.
In the first Test, it was again England’s bowlers who failed to dismiss Sri Lanka on the final day, in spite of plenty of runs to play with. So in a two match series where no fewer than three English batsmen made their first Test centuries, and another made his first double, Anderson’s comments seemed really out of place.
The comments took me back to the tour of the UAE in early 2012 when England played Pakistan. Then, England’s new ball pair were excellent, and they and Graeme Swann kept England competitive in each Test whilst the batsmen collectively and abjectly failed throughout the tour. It was sort of mooted at the time on TMS that the bowlers were getting a trifle fed up of working so hard to pick up some really tough wickets on dead pitches whilst the batsmen failed to pick up Saeed Ajmal’s doosra every time he bowled it, and there was a clear division in the side, bowlers in one clique, batsmen in the other.
Of course, you assume that these rifts heal over, given a smattering of time and the change in personnel in both units. Anderson is apparently the official ‘attack leader’ so he might have simply thought there was some form of obligation to back ‘his’ men when interviewed. It is obvious to say it, but he was also in a bit of a fragile mindset during the interview, and to expect much deep analysis when someone is in that state could simply be asking too much. When seeing a player so broken down, though, it was interesting to see where his immediate gut reaction lay…