James Anderson finished England’s drawn Ashes tour opener against a Western Australia XI with a spring in his step and four hard-earned wickets.
He conceded nonetheless, after he and the remainder of the attack were put under pressure by unheralded batsmen Josh Philippe (88) and Clint Hinchliffe (75), that England made a rusty start on the second and final day at the WACA.
Thanks largely to Anderson’s 4-27 – all his wickets coming in impressive second and third spells – England restricted their second-string opponents to 338 all out in reply to 349-6 declared.
They can therefore head east to Adelaide early this morning satisfied that preparations for the first Test in Brisbane at the end of this month are slightly more advanced.
“I think you could probably see from the first session we were rusty ... that was pretty obvious,” said Anderson.
“We didn’t get it right at all. (But) we’ve got two first-class games coming up that we want to be fit for, and get those cobwebs out.”
Anderson and his Test pace partner Stuart Broad both struggled to find lateral movement against 20-year-old opener Philippe, who chanced his arm and timed the ball beautifully for 16 fours off 92 balls.
“I didn’t have much rhythm first up,” added Anderson.
“It didn’t feel great, and there wasn’t much swing either with the new ball. But then I thought I got better as the day went on, and most of the bowlers would probably say the same ... I thought we gradually got there in the end.”
Broad, arguably, struggled most but did finish the day with a tailend wicket in his 13th and final over.
We didn’t get it right at all. (But) we’ve got two first-class games coming up that we want to be fit for, and get those cobwebs out.England’s James Anderson
“There’s going to be guys that are more rusty than others,” said Anderson.
“I thought Broady bowled a really good spell with the (second) new ball, at the back end there – and that spell at 5 or 5.30 in the afternoon can be just as crucial as the ones first thing in the morning – so getting used to coming back and bowling those spells is really useful for us.”
Philippe had a golden day, and revealed afterwards that his string of early boundaries caused England’s all-time leading wicket-taker a little frustration.
“I thought there was nothing to lose ... a great opportunity to play against some world-class bowlers, so I just thought I’d go out and have a bit of fun – and it worked out all right,” he said.
“Jimmy Anderson wasn’t too impressed early doors, but I just sort of laughed it off, because it was great to be out there and a great experience.”
Evergreen Anderson admitted he was impressed by the rookie opener.
“He was pretty good,” added the England veteran.
“He obviously threw his hands at everything, and on a flat pitch he got away with a lot. But I thought he timed the ball brilliantly.”
Director of England cricket Andrew Strauss, meanwhile, is keen to see Ben Stokes’s future resolved as England count down to the Ashes.
Stokes remains in England waiting to hear whether Avon & Somerset Police will charge him after his arrest on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm in Bristol on September 25.
The 26-year-old was released under investigation and England coach Trevor Bayliss has ruled out his involvement in the Ashes, with Strauss eager to see a resolution.
“The situation – in a word – is complicated,” said the former England captain in a radio interview yesterday morning.
“There are two different potential disciplinary procedures he has to go through, one is the ECB’s own internal one and the other is any potential police action.
“Until we know more from the police it’s very hard for us to put a timeline on anything.
“What we all want is clarity on what that situation is and how much cricket he will be missing for England.
“We’re keen to get into that and move this forward but we’re in the hands of the police.
“Ben has been and is developing into a world-class cricketer. The fact he’s not out there at the moment is a blow to the England team.”