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By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY, Jan 8 (Reuters) - England are on the right track and do not need to overhaul their squad despite crashing to a 4-0 Ashes series defeat to Australia, vice captain Jimmy Anderson said on Monday. Anderson has experienced two 5-0 whitewashes in Australia, including the chaotic 2013-14 trip Down Under which resulted in a string of retirements and the resignation of coach Andy Flower.
But despite England’s bowlers failing to take 20 wickets in any of the matches and the batsmen scoring just three centuries, one of those after the series was lost, Anderson felt England were on the right trajectory.
“We have improved over the last 18 months. We’ve definitely made strides in the right direction,” the 35-year-old said after the tourists fell to an innings and 123-runs defeat in the fifth and final test in Sydney.
“It doesn’t feel like a series where it should be a big upheaval. We’ve actually played some good cricket along the way. We’ve not been blown away in every game.
“Every game has gone to the fifth day. It doesn’t feel like a completely disastrous series. We know we’ve got to improve in a number of areas.”
Anderson said the absence of all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was suspended after an incident outside a nightclub in September, and various off-field incidents at the start of the series had not had an impact on the series.
He also thought the preparations had been adequate. “I don’t know what we could have done differently,” he added. “You can do all the preparation you want. We’ve worked tirelessly in the nets. We’ve planned very well, meticulously. But you can’t prepare for being out in the middle when the pressure is on.
“The only thing that can prepare you for that is being in it and we’ve not dealt with those pressure situations well with bat or ball and that’s been the difference in this series.”
A veteran of seven Ashes series, Anderson said he hoped to be around to play an eighth in England next year as a 37-year-old.
“I’m going to do everything I possibly can be to be ready for that series in 2019,” said the seamer, who took 17 wickets at 27.82.
“I’m still hungry to play. I’m delighted I’ve got through these five test matches and bowled pretty well.”
Anderson also thought Joe Root, who left his sick bed to try to save a draw on Monday, had been outstanding as captain.
“You ask any captain that has toured Australia, it is not an easy place to come, not an easy place to play, especially when you’re on the wrong end of results,” he said.
“I think the way he has carried himself is a real credit to himself. He’s been fantastic all the whole way through, a very level-headed guy.
“He’s not looked down at any stage and he’s led the guys brilliantly both on and off the field. He should be very proud of what he’s done this trip.” (Editing by Peter Rutherford)