Speaking on the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast, former England captain Nasser Hussain asked England’s leading Test wicket-taker James Anderson about what he would say to those who feel there are certain gaps in his record in certain conditions.
“Any positive thing about Jimmy Anderson that’s put out there, there’ll always be someone below the line saying: ‘What about Jimmy away from home? What about Anderson with the Kookaburra ball? Is he just one-dimensional in England?’ What do you say to those people?” asked Hussain. “Are they right or do you think you’ve put that to bed as well?”
“They’ve got a point,” replied Anderson. “The Dukes [red ball used in England] obviously has been a huge help to me and my career. It helps that it swings but you’ve still got to put the ball in the right area, even when it does swing, that’s one thing I’ll say. But I have found it a challenge away from home, finding ways of getting wickets on flat pitches with balls that don’t generally swing.”
Anderson’s overall average is significantly better at home than away from it, with the right-armer taking his wickets at 23.76 runs apiece in England and Wales and 32.06 away from home. However, in the last 10 years that figure is a healthier 28.58, with Anderson playing a part in some of England’s greatest ever overseas triumphs.
“I’m happy with how I’ve improved over the years away from home,” he said. “I probably haven’t torn it up anywhere, but I’ve still done a good job for the team and helped the team win a series in India, we’ve won in Australia, in South Africa. We’ve had good results away from home when I’ve been a part of the team, so I hope that I’ve done a decent job away.”
Anderson credited practising with an old ball in the nets for his improvement. “It has been a challenge,” he said. “The biggest thing that helped me was starting to practice with balls that didn’t swing. The easiest thing for a bowler is to go in the nets and pick the newest ball out of the bag and start swinging it round corners. You look like a million dollars.
“But actually practising with a sock and trying to hit the top of off relentlessly, bowling cutters, off-cutters, leg-cutters, just trying to do something different and picking up different skills along the way to get people out, I’ve enjoyed that challenge, and I like to think that I’ve done a decent job of it.”