Anderson hopes to shine at Old Trafford

James Anderson has an ominous warning for Australia, on his home patch at Old Trafford next week.

James Anderson

As England seek a fifth consecutive Ashes Test victory, dating back to Melbourne 2010 - and Australia try to somehow buck that trend before the urn is gone again - Anderson today spelled out that the hosts are still anticipating further improvement on their most recent 347-run success, at Lord's.

That mammoth margin in the second Investec Test means England will arrive in Manchester needing one more win to make it 3-0 and therefore have the Ashes in safe keeping for a third successive time.

Anderson has been to the fore, with 13 Australia wickets so far this summer - including 10 in the thrilling victory at Trent Bridge.

After England had gone 1-0 up, captain Alastair Cook insisted they were capable of much better - a point they proved at Lord's.

But Anderson is convinced they have even more in the locker, as they head back north.

"It's been a great start ... and I think we can take a lot of confidence from it, going into the next few games," he said.

"We knew it was going to be tough.

"It was quite twitchy at Trent Bridge - a very close game, but we were delighted to come through it."

There were only 14 runs between the teams there, before England turned the screw at HQ.

"We kicked on at Lord's, and put in a much better performance.

"We made a few mistakes at Trent Bridge, and knew we could play a lot better than we did.

"We still know we can play a lot better than we did at Lord's as well."

England had to recover from 28 for three, after winning an important toss last week, and then found themselves in a similar position in their second innings.

But Ian Bell and man of the match Joe Root came to the rescue with a century each time, and off-spinner Graeme Swann out-bowled his opposite numbers in favourable conditions to take nine wickets in the match.

"Even though the win was a lot more convincing, we found ourselves in trouble quite a lot - then managed to dig our way out of a couple of holes," said Anderson.

"We can still improve, and will be looking to do that at Old Trafford next week."

The Lancastrian fast bowler has a rare chance to play Test cricket in front of his own crowd, not to mention that opportunity to win the Ashes with two matches to spare - and keep England on course for an unprecedented whitewash.

"I'm delighted I'm going to get a chance to play at my home ground," he added.

"It's been a few years since I played a Test there.

"The ground has been redeveloped (since then) and looks great. I think it's going to be an amazing atmosphere - it always is there.

"Everyone is excited about it."

That does not mean England are suddenly going to forget their management mantra, and start taking Australia lightly.

Anderson is no exception.

"Any Australian team is always competitive. We saw that at Trent Bridge, and at times at Lord's.

"They had us on the ropes a couple of times.

"We know they're going to come back fighting. They always do, and are always a really competitive team to play against.

"They will be hurting after the first two games, so I guess we are expecting a backlash at Old Trafford."

He knows he has it in his hands to resist, and will try to make sure he does so by as ever setting aside the potential distraction of personal landmarks he keeps reaching and passing.

Anderson, who will be 31 next week and has 320 Test wickets, is just six more away from relegating Bob Willis into third place in England's all-time list of most successful bowlers.

But asked whether he has his eye on that milestone, or any others, he said: "Certainly not during a series.

"My job is to try to take wickets, and get England into a position to win a game of cricket.

"That is my sole focus for next week."



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