|Fifth Ashes Test, Sydney Cricket Ground (day five of five)|
|England 346 (Root 83) & 180 (Root 58 retired ill, Cummins 4-39)|
|Australia 649-7 dec (Khawaja 171, S Marsh 156, M Marsh 101)|
|Australia won by an innings and 123 runs; won Ashes 4-0|
England’s 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia has not been a “disastrous” tour, according to bowler James Anderson.
The tourists lost the urn after only three Tests and were twice beaten by an innings.
“Other series have been absolutely disastrous, but this doesn’t feel like that,” said Anderson, 35, who has twice been whitewashed 5-0 in Australia.
“We’ve actually played some good cricket along the way. We’ve not been blown away in every game.”
The Lancastrian said England do not need to make major changes to their team or management, despite being without a win in 11 away Tests.
“It doesn’t feel there should be big upheaval,” added Anderson, England’s leading wicket-taker of all time.
“You’re always looking to improve, especially after a loss. I’m sure everyone will be looking in the mirror in the next few weeks.”
‘Root should be very proud’
Vice-captain Anderson was speaking after England’s innings-and-123-run defeat in the fifth Test in place of skipper Joe Root, who was suffering from gastroenteritis.
Not out 42 overnight, Root was taken to hospital on Monday morning and did not resume his innings when the first session began.
He did emerge to bat an hour into play and completed a half-century, but retired ill on 58 at lunch before England were bowled out for 180.
“He’s not had any sleep and he’s not eaten,” said Anderson. “To get to the ground was a great effort, and to strap his pads on and bat for as long as he did was brilliant.
“It showed exactly what sort of person he is. He wants to lead by example and has been a fantastic captain throughout this tour. I just hope it’s not too serious and he can sleep it off.”
Anderson also praised the leadership of the 27-year-old, who is leading his first tour as captain.
“Ask any captain who has toured Australia – it’s not an easy place to come, especially when you’re on the wrong end of results,” said the Lancashire bowler.
“The way he’s carried himself has been a credit to himself. He’s led the guys brilliantly both on and off the field. He should be very proud of what he’s done on this trip.”
‘Off-field issues have not affected us’
England’s tour has been blighted by off-field problems, which began before they even named their squad.
All-rounder Ben Stokes was arrested for his part in an altercation outside a Bristol nightclub in September and has not played international cricket since.
On the tour, wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow was accused of “headbutting” Australia’s Cameron Bancroft, while Lions batsman Ben Duckett poured a drink over Anderson. Both incidents occurred in the same Perth bar.
Anderson, however, said the absence of Stokes and the other off-field issues have not have affected the England squad.
“Ben not being here has not impacted our performance or how we are in the dressing room,” said Anderson.
“When you’re missing a player like that, it can affect output. It’s no secret that he’s one of the best all-rounders in the world and, on his day, he’s as good as anyone with bat and ball. Obviously, you’re going to miss a player like that.
“But from our point of view, it’s not affected the way we’ve gone about our business.
“The off-field stuff has had no influence whatsoever on how we’ve performed on the field. Once we get to the ground and we’re out on the field, that’s what we’re focused on. There has been no distraction.”
Could England have done anything differently?
England have now lost seven of their past eight series in Australia and have been beaten in 15 of their past 20 Tests down under. They have won only four matches in this country since the turn of the century.
“I don’t know what we could have done differently,” said Anderson, who finished as England’s leading wicket-taker with 17 at an average of 27.82.
“We’ve worked tirelessly in the nets and we’ve planned meticulously, but you can’t prepare for being out in the middle when the pressure’s on.
“The only thing that can prepare you well is being in it, and we’ve not dealt with these pressure situations well, with bat or ball. That has been the difference in this series.
“I don’t think the preparation or planning could have been any better. It’s just down to the way we’ve performed on the field.”
England will have the opportunity to regain the urn on home soil in 2019, and Anderson, who will be 37 that summer, said he is “absolutely determined” to be part of another Ashes series.
“I’ve loved bowling in this series,” he told BBC Test Match Special. “It’s not been my most fruitful in terms of wickets, but I’ve given it everything and my body has coped with it.
“I’m hungry to keep playing for England. Obviously, the powers that be will decide on the teams that are going to play in the coming months and years, but I’m going to do everything I can to try to be on the park for England.”