James Anderson has admitted that the Edgbaston pitch for the first Ashes Test was “like kryptonite” for him, and warns that if the surfaces for the remaining four matches of the series prove to be similarly flat, then he will be “done”.

Anderson, who turns 41 next month, returned the disappointing figures of 1 for 109 in 38 overs during Australia’s two-wicket win in the first Test, and was noticeably overlooked for the crucial new ball when England were striving for a breakthrough on the tense final afternoon.

He was unlucky in his first spell of the second innings, when Usman Khawaja – Australia’s player of the match – edged at a catchable height past Jonny Bairstow in Anderson’s first over. But overall, he conceded that his body had felt rusty in his first outing since picking up a groin strain while playing for Lancashire in the County Championship last month.

“This is an Ashes series. It is a big deal,” Anderson wrote in his column in The Telegraph. “When you play on a flat pitch like the one at Edgbaston and take a wicket, a bit more emotion does come out because you have worked extra hard for it.

“That pitch was like kryptonite for me. There was not much swing, no reverse swing, no seam movement, no bounce and no pace. I’ve tried over the years to hone my skills so I can bowl in any conditions but everything I tried made no difference. I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle. It’s a long series and hopefully, I can contribute at some point, but if all the pitches are like that I’m done in the Ashes series.”

With Anderson below his best, England struggled for penetration at key moments at Edgbaston, and having encountered some difficulty in dislodging Ireland on the final day of their recent Test at Lord’s, there will doubtless be some temptation to bring in the extra pace of Mark Wood for next week’s second Test at the same venue.

Anderson, however, is confident that he will be better for the game-time, regardless of his disappointing showing.
“There was a bit of rustiness but I gave it everything I could,” he said. “Having played for a long time, I realise you can’t take wickets every game. Sometimes it is not your week. It felt like that for me. I know I wasn’t on top of my game this week. It was not my best performance. I know I have more to offer and contribute to the team.

“The body felt quite good. There is some stiffness but I put that down to the unique conditions. We were running in on a very soft outfield then landing on a rock-hard pitch and that takes its toll on the body more than normal. All the bowlers were feeling that a bit.”

Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson led the line for England’s quicks at Edgbaston, with Robinson returning the commendable figures of 40.4-12-98-5 across the two innings. However, his performance was equally notable for his on-field run-in with Usman Khawaja, which has since developed into an ongoing feud with Australia’s media as a whole, following more outspoken comments in his column for Wisden.com.

Anderson even stepped in to pull Robinson away from a contratemps with Khawaja in the second innings, but insisted in his column that he wouldn’t be encouraging him to tone down his attitude as the series progresses.

“I don’t want Ollie to change,” Anderson said. “I like him getting fired up. He bowls better when he is in that mood. From personal experience, I know I bowl better when I am a bit more aggressive and intense.

“I stepped in to chat to Ollie when he and Usman were having an exchange of views in the second innings. It was gentle stuff, they were just talking cricket.

“Whenever I watched cricket as a kid I wanted to see bowlers fired up. It makes for better theatre and is a lot more enjoyable to watch. Everyone is just encouraged to be themselves in our team. Some people don’t like getting into a verbal battle. Some do. Robbo thrives on it.”


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