Ahead of the 2021/22 Ashes series, every cricket fan has their own predictions on who will be included. One popular possibility is, of course, James Anderson. Based on his record alone, his inclusion should be something of a no-brainer. However, with an action-packed schedule awaiting the 32-time Ashes winners over the coming months, form and fitness will likely determine who’s lining up for England in Australia on November 22nd. But will the selectors opt for Anderson?
Anderson’s Record Raises Questions
While nobody can deny the Englishman’s ability, Anderson’s overseas form is perhaps the only weakness to his game. On home soil, the Burnley-born right-hander is undoubtedly one of the finest seamers in cricket. Outside of England, however, he’s struggled to replicate his success at home venues.
According to figures from HowStat, in 842 matches in England, the 38-year-old has taken 384 wickets. Away, on the other hand, his record sits at 222 in 592 games. While still impressive, there are drastic differences in his average and bowling strike rate. The same data platform states that, at home, Anderson’s average is 23.84, and his strike rate is 50.23. Overseas, meanwhile, those figures rise to 31.40 and 65.96, respectively.
Regarding Australia specifically, Anderson has often performed well Down Under. As per ESPN Cricinfo, the 38-year-old averages 29.3 against Australia, which is below his total overseas average. Not only that, but as of 2017, Anderson performed best when facing Justin Langer’s team. At that time, he’d taken 87 wickets against the Baggy Greens, which was five more than against the second-highest team, India.
Good to Leave Behind?
Regarded as an all-time great, Anderson cemented his legacy as an icon of the modern game after becoming England’s leading wicket-taker. Along with proudly holding that status, he’s also the first fast bowler in the sport’s history to reach 600 Test wickets. Given his record, it’s somewhat baffling that his inclusion for the 2021/22 Ashes series is in question. Anderson himself has stated his desire to play in the tournament, but Peter Siddle believes that Stuart Broad should get the nod ahead of the 38-year-old.
Currently, England’s pace bowling attack is formidable, with Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, and Mark Wood also available for selection. Siddle states that his preference to select Broad over Anderson relates to the pitch conditions, with the Burnley-born right-hander historically struggling to get the ball swinging.
Talking about his progression, Anderson declared that he’s better now than he was eight years ago. That, combined with his experience, makes him a valuable asset to England, and he could be the key to success at the highly-anticipated competition. As of February 2nd, England are 11/4 in cricket betting to win the 2021/22 Ashes series, but only time will tell if Anderson plays a leading role in their pursuit of glory.
If Selected, Anderson Can Hurt Australia
Recently, Australia lost to a second-string Indian side on home soil. As such, their confidence won’t be at an all-time high. Should their dip in form continue into the Ashes, Anderson has the ability to punish them further. The Baggy Greens’ top order has struggled for consistency of late, and if the 38-year-old is selected and can ask questions of them in the opening overs, then England may reap the reward of his inclusion.