Does Anderson really struggle in Australia?

Published on: Nov 10, 2021

James Anderson is the most distinguished fast bowler in the history of the game. The Englishman has taken more wickets than other paceman, notching an incredible 632 scalps in his 166 Test appearances. He has broken multiple records and won multiple Ashes series, including one Down Under in the 2010/11 series. Anderson continues to astound with his brilliance at the age of 39, and he has insisted that he has no plans to retire in the near future.

However, the 2021/22 Ashes series is likely to be his last on a tour of Australia. England are underdogs at 4/1 in the cricket betting odds to win back the urn, which would be a remarkable achievement considering that the Three Lions have not won a Test match down under since 2011. Joe Root will need a special effort from Anderson and fellow veteran paceman Stuart Broad to swing the contest into the favour of the tourists, especially given the absence of Jofra Archer.

Anderson has been through a range of emotions during tours of Australia. He made his return to the England team after a significant absence in the 2006/07 series, replacing Simon Jones in the line-up. However, he endured a miserable time in the middle, struggling to cope with the ferocity of the Australia batting line-up. In three matches he claimed only five wickets at an average of 82.60. Anderson suffered at the hands of the Baggy Greens, although he is not the only England bowler.

In the time that passed between tours, Anderson developed into one of the premier bowlers in Test match cricket, developing the skills that would allow him to become England’s most successful paceman in the future. He became Andrew Strauss’ most trusted bowler under pressure, leading an experienced unit to victory against the Aussies in the 2010/11 series. England batsmen were magnificent on the tour, but 20 wickets are still required to win Test matches. Anderson displayed his quality with 24 wickets at an average of 26.04, which was crucial given that Broad was ruled out of the series after the second match.

The last two tours have been abject disappointment for England, although Anderson has been hit and miss. Out of 10 matches, the Three Lions have lost nine and drawn one. In 2013, England had beaten Australia during the summer as the international calendar presented a back-to-back Ashes series. Anderson struggled immensely, especially in the second innings of matches at Brisbane and Perth. The Three Lions under Alastair Cook appeared jaded and were unable to rise to the occasion so soon after easing past the Aussies on home soil. Mitchell Johnson led a resurgence from the Baggy Greens to a 5-0 whitewash

England endured familiar failings in the 2017/18 series, although Anderson was excellent with 17 wickets at an average of 27.82. Time after time, the Three Lions manoeuvred themselves into decent positions, but lost the key moments in the game as Steve Smith’s excellence with the bat proved to be decisive, notably in the first Test that set the tone for the series.

After missing the majority of the 2019 series due to injury, Anderson will be hungry to prove a point and has already targeted Smith. For all that he has accomplished in the game, the 39-year-old will be irked that his record in Australia has been questioned. His two poor tours do have mitigating circumstances. Anderson’s first spell in Australia came when he was finding his way in the game after being left on the sidelines, while his second poor performance came after a hectic summer and the rest of the team were on their last legs.

The 2021/22 England squad does have a lot of faults, but Anderson is certainly not one of them. A similar effort from his last outing in Australia might do the business on this occasion if the rest of the England side turn up.