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Moeen protects injured finger as England look to regroup

CricketMoeen protects injured finger as England look to regroup

Frustration at the result in Brisbane and irritation at the contrivance behind the Jonny Bairstow headbutt incident should give England “extra fire” in Adelaide, according to James Anderson.Moein Ali

Anderson, England’s vice-captain, admitted his side were “not good enough” at capitalising on good opportunities in the first Test. But he felt the frustration at failing to seize those chances and the irritation at Australia’s tactics should “galvanise” England.

“We were very frustrated with the way the game finished in Brisbane,” Anderson said. “But we played some really good cricket. We started really well over the first three days. We had our noses in front at times but we just weren’t able to capitalise.

“Being 240 for 4 and then being bowled out for 300 is not good enough. And then having them 200 for 7 and not finishing off the tail is not good enough. We know we have to be better in those situation.

“That’s why it’s frustrating for us. But it’s something we can really build on and take extra fire from. The experience of having been there in those situations and not capitalising on them will help us going into the next few Tests. Hopefully we will make a point of pushing them home if we do get into them again.”

Admitting he had not experienced an Ashes soap opera “quite as bad” as the Bairstow incident – with Australia mocking outrage at his odd greeting to Cameron Bancroft a month previously – Anderson said England had to stick together and not allow themselves to be distracted.

James Anderson on…

The curfew:

“It is not like we are party animals out till three every night. We are here to play cricket and win a Test series and we are focussed on that.”


“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 to succeed. They were fairly quiet for the first few days when we were doing well. It was only on the fourth day when they became vocal.”


“We are not going to become 90 mph bowlers, so we have to try and work out ways of getting wickets with the attack we’ve got. Here – with a pink ball and lights – is somewhere we can use our skills that will really suit our bowling attack.”

Steve Smith:

“He was the difference between the teams in Brisbane. You almost have to take him out of the picture when you’re bowling because if you watch what he’s doing, it distracts you from where you want the ball to go. Hopefully more pace in the wicket might help us.”

“The Ashes always seem to bring things up off the field,” he said. “There is always something that crops up and they waited until they were ahead in the game to do it.

“It’s down to us to really focus on the cricket. We’re here to win an Ashes series. We’re not bothered about a war of words with the Australians, we just want to outperform them.

“We have a really tight group of players who really get on well and are trying to win a big Test series.

“We don’t need an extra incentive, but if we did it will give us that. It has probably brought us closer together as a group. If anything it will galvanise us as a group.

“We want to stick together as a group and perform well on the field. We’re enjoying each other’s company. We’ve got a really nice group of lads and a good team spirit, but the most important thing is how we do on the field. We did it for three days in Brisbane and it has to be longer here.”

Anderson didn’t bowl in the nets on Thursday. While that is slightly unusual – he tends to bowl two days before a game and do little, if anything, the day before – he insisted he was fit.

“I’m not sure where the rumour about my fitness came from or who made that up in the commentary box,” he said, referring to persistent rumours that he was injured mid-way through the Brisbane Test. “I’ve been absolutely fine. I got hit on the shoulder while I was batting but apart from a little bruise, there is nothing serious. Certainly nothing that’s going to stop me playing.”

A more pressing concern for England was the fitness of Moeen Ali. He also didn’t bowl at training on Thursday – though he batted for nearly the entire three-hour session – in an attempt to give his spinning finger every opportunity to heal before the Test starts on Saturday. While what was once a cut has scabbed and blistered nicely, there must be a concern that the rigours of bowling will again rip it open.

There is little thought of him missing the game, though. While he was comprehensively out-bowled by Nathan Lyon in Brisbane, his ability to bat and the fact that England’s only other spin option is a 20-year-old legspinner suggest he will retain his place even if it means he has a slightly reduced workload.
Neither he or the England management are especially concerned about his bowling in the first Test. While he played down the extent of the finger injury after the game – he said he simply bowled poorly – the truth is the cut badly impeded him. He felt that, had he bowled in the first innings of the match on a surface that was tacky, he too would have gained sharp turn but that the cut prevented him from putting the necessary revolutions on the ball.

Craig Overton was one of those who did impress at nets on Thursday. Bowling a wonderfully nagging length, he troubled several batsmen and can have done his chances of selection no harm. Despite being dismissed for a duck in each of the three innings he has had on tour so far, he might also provide just a bit of fibre to a tail that was blown away by Australia’s pace and hostility. It remains likely, however, that England will stick with Jake Ball in the hope that conditions in Adelaide are more to his liking.

Meanwhile Anderson revealed that, during England’s second innings in Brisbane, he had questioned the umpires over the number of short balls being bowled at England’s tailenders.
“I don’t know how seriously they take that and I don’t know what constitutes dangerous bowling,” Anderson told the BBC. “It was mentioned to Marais Erasmus in the last game but he didn’t seem to think it was too bad. We’ll have to prepare for some more short stuff.

“I was batting with Jake Ball in the second innings and Pat Cummins bowled two short balls over shoulder height. There was a third very close that wasn’t given and I questioned when does it get dangerous. He said he was happy with it at the time. It’s down to the umpires. We have to plan to get a barrage, which we are.

“It’s very clear how they will attack us. We saw that with the fields they set to the tailenders and what they bowled at us. It’s our job to get in the nets and figure out ways of combating that. We have to find scoring options, ways of defending yourself and ways to stay at the crease if you’re with a batsman. Every run is crucial out here and we know we’ll have to get some runs down the bottom if we’re going to have success.”

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