Joe Root moved to quell suggestions of a rift between Jimmy Anderson and the coaching staff on the eve of England’s third Test with Australia after the paceman appeared to question their input during the defeat in Adelaide.
Speaking before the final Ashes Test at the Waca – and before later naming an unchanged side that sees Jonny Bairstow promoted to No6 ahead of Moeen Ali – Root fielded questions about a recent newspaper column from his vice-captain and senior bowler.
England’s seamers had been criticised for failing to locate the right length on the opening day of the pink ball match in Adelaide after Root had won the toss, with just four wickets taken and Australia then ploughing for a hefty first innings total that set up their 120-run victory.
Anderson responded in his Telegraph column by writing: “I bowled too short in the first innings at Adelaide. We should have bowled a touch fuller. That was an oversight from the players on the field but also from the coaches who could have had an input too, which was frustrating.”
The inclusion of the coaches appeared somewhat pointed from a bowler with 131 caps and 514 Test wickets. Root countered by stating that such decisions ultimately fall back on the players and himself as the on-field leader.
Root said: “I think the relationship [between players and coaches] has been really good. I think we got it wrong on the field. It’s easy to look back and say: ‘Go and try to bowl that little bit fuller’. We all knew that was the case and it’s probably slightly harsh to put the blame on to the coaches.
“That might not be exactly how he wanted that to come across in the way it did but I think ultimately us guys on the field, we’re the ones responsible for what we are doing out there. We have to be smarter, react quicker. I take responsibility for that as well, as captain.”
Anderson and Stuart Broad built up a strong rapport with the former bowling coach, Ottis Gibson, and often tapped into his advice during matches. His departure at the end of the summer to become the coach of South Africa left a hole.
England hired the former New Zealand quick Shane Bond as a consultant for the first two Tests but he has since left the group, with the full-time appointment, Chris Silverwood, not starting until the new year after seeing out his notice period at champions Essex.
Paul Collingwood, on tour as an assistant coach, has now taken over the bowlers in a mentoring capacity but ultimately the hope was that England’s two leading wicket-takers, who played their 100th Test together this week, would lead the group in terms of tactics.
Anderson and Broad care one wicket away from equalling the 762 victims that Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh shared from their 95 Tests played together, with the great West Indies pair the all-time seam-bowling partnership in this regard.
Only the prolific seam-spin pairings of Australia’s Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne (1,001 wickets shared from 104 Tests) and Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka (895 from 95 Tests) sit above them.