Joe Root has defended England’s coaching staff after what appeared to be some criticism from James Anderson.
Anderson, writing in his Telegraph column, had admitted he “bowled too short” on the first day of the Adelaide Test after Root had won the toss and inserted Australia. But while Anderson accepted England “should have bowled fuller”, he also suggested the coaches could have stepped in.
“It was an oversight from the players on the field, but also from the coaches who could have had an input too, which is frustrating,” Anderson wrote.
That left Root, the England captain, feeling the need to defend the coaching staff in his pre-match press conference in Perth on Wednesday.
“It’s probably slightly harsh to put the blame on to the coaches,” Root said. “The relationship between coaches and players has been really good. Us guys on the field, we’re the ones responsible for what we are doing out there.
“It’s easy to look back and say ‘bowl that little bit fuller’ but we all knew that was the case. I think we got it wrong on the field. We have to be smarter, react quicker. I take responsibility for that as well, as captain.”
Anderson comments do seem a little odd. Not only might you think that Anderson – as a 35-year-old veteran of 135 Tests – had the experience to know how to bowl in such circumstances without the interference of anyone in the dressing room, but it seems strange that he has felt the need to make his views public. Only one ball in the first 13 overs would have hit the stumps.
It also remains unclear about whom Anderson was referring. Shane Bond was the seam bowling coach in Adelaide – his interim spell in the position ended after the game – while England also have various analysts as well as the main coaching pair of Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace, who could have sent messages out on to the field as required. Anderson had previously praised Bond for his input in formulating plans of attack for each of the Australia batsmen.
Either way, Root’s comments meant that, for the second time in successive days, the England captain had felt the need to mildly rebuke his vice-captain. The previous day Root had answered, “Yes, maybe a little bit” when asked whether Anderson needed to set a better example. Anderson was one of the players to return to The Avenue bar – the scene of Jonny Bairstow’s now notorious greeting of Cameron Bancroft at the start of the tour – at the end of last week where, in the early hours of Friday, Ben Duckett deliberately poured a drink over him.
While it would be wrong to overstate the level of conflict – these were two gentle remarks, after all – any public disagreement between such senior players on the eve of what Root has called “one of the biggest games of our lives” is not ideal. Just the previous day, Root had said: “We are all in this together and we are only going to win if we stick together.”
“It’s staring you in the face that the Ashes are on the line,” Root said on Wednesday. “We know what’s at stake. We have to deliver. We have to make sure we put in that rounded performance which we know we can. We know what we need to do. We just have to go out there and perform.”