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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Steve Smith’s wicket crucial for England’s Ashes chances: James Anderson

James Anderson feels England’s chances depend on how quickly they can dismiss Australian cricket team captain Steve Smith in the Ashes.

cricket Updated: Nov 30, 2017 16:39 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse, Adelaide
England's James Anderson, left, reacts as Australia's Steve Smith, right, scores runs off his bowling during the first Ashes Test.
England's James Anderson, left, reacts as Australia's Steve Smith, right, scores runs off his bowling during the first Ashes Test.(AP)

England’s all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson says getting Steve Smith’s wicket cheaply is crucial to the tourists’ chances of squaring the Ashes series in Adelaide this week.

Smith was the difference with his defiant unbeaten 141 in Australia’s 10-wicket win over England in the first Brisbane Test.

Anderson, who looms as England’s big hope in Saturday’s historic first-ever Ashes day-night Test at Adelaide Oval, is hoping quicker pitch conditions will help the tourists’ cause.

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“He was the difference between the two teams. That first-innings lead would’ve been huge for us,” Anderson told reporters Thursday.

“So, getting him out here will be crucial.

“Hopefully more pace in the wicket might help us, but we’ve just got to be as relentless as we possibly can to someone like that.”

Anderson, who has 508 wickets in 130 Tests, is expected to be suited by the swing and movement with the pink ball off the Adelaide pitch in the twilight conditions along with his new-ball partner Stuart Broad.

Anderson said England have their plans to dismiss the Australian captain, who is the world’s top-rated Test batsman, and will continue to execute them in Adelaide.

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“Obviously, the plans to him, I wouldn’t say they didn’t work, but we didn’t get him out, so they worked to an extent,” Anderson said.

“We dried his runs up and made him work really hard for his hundred but obviously we want to get him out.”

Smith was made to grind out his runs. It took 261 deliveries for Smith to reach triple figures in Brisbane in what was the slowest of his 21st Test centuries in terms of balls faced.

Curfew incentive

Smith’s Test-defining unbeaten century over eight-and-a-half hours gave Australia a 26-run first innings lead which helped swing the momentum firmly towards Australia over the closing days of the Gabba Test.

“The encouraging thing for us is we came up with plans to all their batsmen before the series started and probably 70 percent of them worked,” Anderson said.

“For us that’s encouraging, we can build on that.

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“But there’s still that small matter of someone getting 140 which we need to deal with.

“We know the dangers of David Warner at the top of the innings as well, so we’ve got to keep working hard at getting those guys out because we know how pivotal they are in their line-up.”

Anderson said the touring squad had rallied around Jonny Bairstow, who caused an unwanted distraction when details emerged of late-night head-butting incident involving Australia’s new Test batsman Cameron Bancroft in Perth at the outset of England’s Ashes tour.

The England wicketkeeper said the incident was blown out of proportion, but a midnight curfew has been put in place for the players for the rest of the Australian tour.

“If anything it will galvanise us as a group,” Anderson.

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“If we need any more incentive to get back in the series, it will give us that.”

Anderson said he was delighted to hear that Australia would “go hard at us” in Adelaide.

“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. When someone is trying to get under my skin in all walks of life it makes me more determined,” he said.

First Published: Nov 30, 2017 13:55 IST