Anderson reveals love for Adelaide Oval ahead of second Ashes Test

James Anderson relishes prospect of fifth Test at his ‘favourite ground outside the UK’ with veteran England bowler set for return in Adelaide after being left out of Ashes opener

  • James Anderson was not selected for the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba 
  • He is set to play in Adelaide, where he took his only five-wicket haul in Australia
  • ‘I think it’s my favourite ground outside the UK’, said Anderson ahead of the Test 
  • He says the key will be taking advantage of when the pink ball swings or seams

James Anderson sounded almost wistful as he reflected on the prospect of his fifth Test match at Adelaide, a ground he regards as his favourite away from the rather greener grass of home.

Passed over for the Ashes opener at Brisbane as England looked to manage their seam-bowling resources across five tightly packed matches, Anderson is due to return to Joe Root’s attack for the second of them, starting in the early hours of Thursday morning (GMT). 

And the prospect of adding to his CV at a venue where four previous Tests spread across 15 years had brought him 16 wickets at 29 even threatened to elicit a smile.

James Anderson is set for a return to the England side having missed out on the first Ashes Test

Anderson spoke about his love of playing in Adelaide ahead of his fifth Test at the ground

It has often seemed that Anderson has not been every Australian’s favourite cricketer, but the widespread hue and cry in these parts after his omission at the Gabba hinted at a hidden affection. If his Test record on Australian soil – 60 wickets at 35 – has often been used against him, then his overall haul of 632, the most by any seamer in Test history, has gradually added up to a grudging respect.

Anderson described the reaction from Australia’s players to his absence from the first Test as a ‘nice surprise’, but added: ‘I’m sure they’re not going to be saying nice things to me this week.’

There was, though, no better place to reintroduce him to Test cricket in this country than Adelaide. It was here, in 2010-11, that he got England off to a sensational start, removing Ricky Ponting for a duck and Michael Clarke for two as the hosts staggered to two for three en route to an innings defeat.

It was also here, four years ago, that he collected his only five-wicket haul in Australia – though on that occasion England went on to lose by 120 runs.

And before all that, way back in January 2003 – when Anderson was 20 and yet to win even the first of his 166 Test caps – he returned the remarkable figures of 10-6-12-1 in a one-day international there against the Australians. No England bowler has ever produced more maidens in an ODI.

In those days Adelaide Oval had a quaintly English feel, with St Peter’s Cathedral easily visible across Pennington Terrace, and Australia’s most famous manual scoreboard adding to the sense of another era.

Now, following several years of redevelopment aimed at upping capacity to over 53,000 and creating a home for Australian Rules Football, it is more like a stadium – though the grassy Northern Mound, Moreton Bay fig trees and scoreboard are heritage-listed and remain, thankfully, untouched.

Anderson is preparing to bowl with the pink ball in the day-night game in the second Test

‘I think it’s my favourite ground outside the UK,’ said Anderson. ‘It’s changed since I first played here, but I’ve always enjoyed it, whether with the one-day or Test side.

‘The atmosphere is great, people love their cricket in Adelaide and the stuff they’ve done to the ground is fantastic. It’s now an amazing stadium. All the guys love playing here.’

Anderson is 39, which means he is old enough to have taken part in another memorable Adelaide encounter in 2006-07, when Andrew Flintoff declared England’s first innings on 551 for six, and somehow ended up on the losing side after Shane Warne spun his magic on a traumatic final day. Australia went on to win 5-0.

Anderson believes it will be about taking advantage of times when the ball is moving 

Ahead of his fifth Test appearance here – making Adelaide his most frequented overseas venue – Anderson tried to explain the art of pink-ball bowling under lights. It can be an inexact science. 

In November 2019, Australian opener David Warner scored 335 not in a day/night Test here against Pakistan. A little over a year later, India’s galacticos were bowled out for 36.

‘The pink ball is quite temperamental,’ said Anderson. ‘It’s not a given that it will swing round corners or seam. We know it’s generally a good pitch here, and if the sun is out it won’t do a great deal. At twilight or under lights it might do a bit more. It’s trying to take advantage of those periods.’

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