Anderson vows to let the ball do the talking in WCup opener
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The man who once described his on-field sledging ability as a “skill” has played down the prospect of a verbal battle when England takes on Australia in their opening match of the Cricket World Cup on Saturday.
James Anderson, who has featured in several high-profile sledging exchanges over the years including an outburst against India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni last year and a much publicized altercation with Australia captain Michael Clarke during the last Ashes series, has vowed to be aggressive with the ball and not with his tongue at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The International Cricket Council has warned it will crack down on on-field behavior during the World Cup, with suspensions and harsher fines for players who breach the code of conduct.
Australia’s David Warner will be one of the players in the ICC’s sights after heated exchanges during an ill-tempered test and one-day series against India this summer.
Asked if England might try to bait Warner, Anderson replied: “Having played against him in the past, I’m not sure he needs too much encouragement. But we’re going to go out there and concentrate on what we do. ... Our main job is to get him out, not to rile him up, so we’ll be concentrating on that.”
For his part, Australia coach Darren Lehman is happy for his team to retain its on-field aggression.
“We’ll let them go play the game as they normally would,” Lehmann said this week. “Nice, aggressive, fair and making sure they’re not crossing the line.”
Regardless, Anderson says expects no ill feeling in the match against Australia.
“We’ve played three games already against them in the last few weeks in the tri series and that was played in a great spirit, both teams very competitive, but played in the right manner and I presume it will continue like that tomorrow,” he said.
England’s reception from a partisan crown of around 90,000 mainly Australian fans at the MCG could be a different story.
“We’re guessing that the majority (of the crowd) will be against us, that’s something we are prepared for, but we’ve played here in a test match in front of 90,000 on Boxing Day and if we start well we know we can quieten most of them, but it’s all about starting well and enjoying the occasion,” Anderson said.
It was at the MCG that a 20-year-old Anderson made his international debut in 2002.
“The 20-year-old version of me was just happy to be there and enjoying the occasion. I guess the abuse at the time was a bit of a shock,” he said. “Tomorrow it won’t be a shock.”