James Anderson warns England to iron out their inconsistency ahead of Ashes
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England fast bowler James Anderson lamented the side's poor bowling display against the West Indies in the ongoing Test match at Headingley as the tourists batted themselves to a position of supremacy at the end of second day's play on Saturday.
With the Ashes series scheduled for later this year, Anderson warned the side that they cannot afford to be inconsistent, having won convincingly against South Africa and in the first Test against West Indies at Edgbaston.
"We didn't bowl very well. Even on a pitch with life in it, you have to put the ball in the right area," Anderson said, reflecting on England's performance on Saturday. "We talk about bowling in partnerships but we did not do that much today. There was always a release at the other end. We bowled a lot of bad balls."
"We have a big tour of Australia coming up and we can't go there and win the series if we are inconsistent," he added.
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England have started off well under Joe Root's captaincy having won the four-match Test series against South Africa at home 3-1.
They outplayed West Indies in the opening Test of the ongoing series as well with a crushing win by an innings and 209 runs.
However, the visitors fought back bravely on Saturday, with Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite scoring majestic centuries. The former is still undefeated and will be looking to inflict further damage when play resumes on Sunday.
The manner in which West Indies capitulated in the series opener invited a lot of criticism, especially from the likes of former Windies legend Curtly Ambrose and former England skipper Michael Vaughan, with the latter scathing in his remarks calling for the introduction of a two-tier system in Test cricket.
The visitors have given a good account of themselves though in the Headingley Test, with both bat and ball. Anderson praised the efforts of both Hope and Brathwaite but feels England could have done much better with the ball.
The 35-year-old spoke of the importance of bowling well in partnerships and felt that it was missing completely on Saturday as the hosts allowed easy runs to be scored from one end.
With talks of Australia unleashing a four-pronged pace attack during the Ashes series later this year, Anderson wants England to iron out their own inconsistencies if they are hopeful of defending the Ashes Down Under.
Despite Anderson's remarks, it is clear that England are still the team on top in the three-match series and are a team high on confidence, especially playing in home conditions.
The Test series will be followed by a lone T20I and a five-match ODI series before England shift their focus to the all-important Ashes series which will begin with the first Test at Brisbane on November 23.
While the West Indies did play incredibly well and take England by surprise on the day, the hosts are still very much in the ascendancy as far as the series is concerned. It is the batting that remains a concern though, with the No 3 spot still up for grabs.
Joe Root's side have their bases covered pretty much in all other areas but when it comes to an Ashes series, it takes much more than talent to perform against your arch-rivals.