Melbourne: By England’s own admission they played “boring” cricket but that was responsible for producing their best performance of the series.
A slow drop-in pitch at the MCG and pleasant temperatures in Melbourne combined to provide almost a taste of home for England’s seam attack who reproduced last summer’s strangling of Australian batsmen keen to attack.
The rock hard bouncy deck of the Gabba and the furnace temperatures of the Waca were forgotten as English seamers, led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad, co-ordinated the team’s response to the crisis of the past 10 days, which have seen the Ashes surrendered and Graeme Swann abruptly retire.
“Days like that have been few and far between on this trip and we are just really hungry to get something out of this tour,” said Anderson. “We showed that today. We fielded very well today. I thought we dived around a lot, chased everything and I thought Cooky set good fields. We bowled to those fields and it was a complete performance by us.
“There was not much out there for us. A bit of reverse at some point but not much seam movement. We had to work really hard, stay patient, work with the guy at the other end. We were trying to bowl maidens, dots and as boring as it sounds it was the way to go on that pitch and it worked well for us.”
Blood flowed from the face of Chris Rogers when he was struck by a bouncer from Stuart Broad, although the blow appeared to stir the opener into a fightback as he made the highest score of the innings. “We got bogged down and we looked for releases and they forced us into mistakes,” said Rogers. “It was a combination of that and England bowling well.”
“I’ve felt ok throughout the series but the frustrating thing is not getting the ball swinging as much as we thought and there has not been as much seam movement as last time we were here,” said Anderson.
For Anderson life has changed over the past week with the departure of Swann, his close friend. “Just because Graeme has gone I do have other friends in the team,” he said. “He was a big character but there are other characters in our side. As harsh as it sounds, because he is a good friend, you have to move on and we want to get something out of this Test, and the next one, so we have got to concentrate on the future now.”
Anderson was diplomatic when asked about Kevin Pietersen’s dismissal. Having batted for four hours the previous day with discipline, he came out slogging in the morning even though three valuable first-innings wickets were left. “I am not sure, you will have to ask Kev about that,” he said.