London: James Anderson has a two-point plan for dealing with feral Australian crowds in The Ashes this winter.
You start by drowning the hecklers in a torrent of runs and wickets. Then, having established a position of strength, you can participate in the banter, rather than simply blocking it out.
England fell down on both front in 2006-07, that horror show of a winter where the team succumbed to a 0-5 whitewash and captain Andrew Flintoff succumbed to the bottle. But the slings and arrows rather lost their sting during the 2010-11 series, six weeks of glory overseen by the brass-buttoned officer-type that is Andrew Strauss.
“The best way to shut them up is to bowl them out,” Anderson said.
“Australia in general can be quite an intimidating place. They’re very passionate, very vocal as well. Thankfully we’ve got a lot of experience in the team, people who have played there before in good times and bad times.”
Asked whether Australian sledging extends beyond the cricket field, Anderson replied: “Certainly we felt that in 2006, and the wives and girlfriends felt it as well.
“When we were out at Christmas time and walking down the street we were abused. But I think we dealt with it better in 2010, we tried to interact more with the public and actually embrace the culture, whereas in 2006 we were quite guarded and tried to stay in our little bubble and I thought we did it slightly wrong.
“I remember a situation (on the last tour) where we played golf, and a couple of guys duffed it on the first tee. “Some people in the clubhouse were having a laugh, saying, ‘Your cricket’s the same’.
“But rather than getting your head down and rushing off, we tried to have a bit of banter. It’s not all horrible abuse, some of it is quite light-hearted and meant in the right way so we actually enjoyed that.”
England fly out on Wednesday for what will surely be a spicy series.