England pacer James Anderson has been forced to watch the Ashes from the sidelines after bowling just four overs in the first Test at Edgbaston and as the dream of getting it back home went up in flames, Anderson says that England failed to use the conditions to their advantage.
Anderson, England's most successful Test bowler and fourth in the world, feels that England should have made better use of the home conditions. While the 37-year-old agrees with the fact that Steve Smith has had a dream season, he also feels that the pitches suited Australia more than the home side
"I think they've probably suited Australia more than us. I would have liked to have seen a bit more grass but that's the nature of the game here. When you're selling out - like Lancashire selling out five days of Test cricket - it's hard not to produce a flat deck but, you know, that's one of the frustrations from a player's point of view. We go to Australia and get pitches that suit them. They come over here and get pitches that suit them. It doesn't seem quite right.
"I thought they were good pitches here against India [last year]. I thought they weren't green seamers but I thought they suited us more than India. We as a country don't use home advantage enough. When you go to Australia, go to India, Sri Lanka, they prepare pitches that suit them. I feel like we could just be a little bit more biased towards our own team," Espncricinfo quoted Anderson as saying.
With four Tests down and one to go, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood have grabbed 24 wickets at an average below 20 while Stuart Broad has the most number of wickets with 19 at an average of 26.63. The bowlers have dominated overall with only two Australians in Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne having an average of over 30 while England have three in Rory Burns, Ben Stokes and Joe Root.
Australia coach Justin Langer, however, feels differently. According to him, wickets should be competitive and not favouring anyone in particular.
"It's most important for the health of Test cricket moving forward that you're playing on competitive wickets," Langer said ahead of the Oval Test. "Great players make runs, games always moving forward, you're on the edge of your seat. I think the wickets this series have been fantastic for that."
Anderson's frustrations might have been more so because of him not being able to help the team and watching from the sidelines. He continues to work on his fitness and is ready to make changes to his training and eating habits if that's what is necessary to come back and play soon.
"When I start this rehab, I'm going to try and investigate every possible avenue of what do I need to do at my age to keep myself in good shape," Anderson said. "I feel in really good condition. I feel as fit as I ever have. It's just the calf keeps twanging.
"I'm going to look at every possible thing I can to make sure I can play for as long as possible. I'll look at how other sportspeople have done it throughout their careers to keep going into their late 30s. Whether there's anything specific I can do, diet, gym programme, supplements, whatever it might be. Because I've still got a real hunger and desire to play cricket. I still love the game and still feel like I can offer something to this team and still have the skills and can bowl quick enough to have a positive effect.
"It'll be an ongoing process through the rest of my career. I still feel like I can be the best bowler in the world. So as long as I've got that mentality I'm going to keep pushing myself. Keep trying to improve my skills with the ball, work hard at my batting, and try to find every possible thing to help me stay fit."