Ashes 2013/14: James Anderson 'may be towards the end of his England career'
Flat and tired seamer must lift himself back in England, says McGrath...
Last Updated: 04/01/14 11:48am
Anderson, 31, claimed 24 wickets at 26 runs apiece in England's 3-1 Ashes triumph 'Down Under' in 2010/11 but this time around has just half that number of scalps at an average of 47.71 with just one more crack at Australia's batsmen to come, in Sydney.
The Lancashire seamer - whose great pal Graeme Swann retired during the Ashes - became only the fourth Englishman to take 300 Test wickets last year, following Sir Ian Botham (383), Bob Willis (325) and Fred Trueman (307).
But McGrath, who bagged 563 wickets in a stellar 124 Test career, says it's clear that Anderson has been performing well below his best on this tour.
"Anderson has been a little bit disappointing," he told Sky Sports. "I've got a lot of respect for him and I think he's a great bowler.
"He had a very good series last time out here and I thought he had learned to bowl with the Kookaburra. But in this series he's seemed tired and flat. It has been tough.
"I don't know if he had a big workload going into this series or whether it's just because the ball hasn't swung and he doesn't know how to take wickets.
"When it's swinging he's one of the best bowlers in the world, without a doubt. Time will tell where he's at when he goes back to England.
"If he can lift himself when he gets a Duke ball, which he loves bowling with, and bowl well then he's fine otherwise - who knows - he may be towards the end of his career."
McGrath, now 43, helped himself to 21 wickets at 23.90 as Australia romped to a 5-0 Ashes in 2006/07 but he says it will be a more impressive achievement if this current side - 4-0 up going into the Sydney Test - completes a whitewash so soon after their 3-0 defeat in England last summer.
"It has been incredible," he reflected. "I think it is one of the best performances by a bowling unit that I've seen. They've executed their game-plans really well, they've bowled consistently and their plans have worked.
"When they haven't been taking wickets, they haven't been going for runs whereas England have still gone along at around four runs an over, even if they've taken wickets.
"By doing that you can't create any pressure at all and that's one thing the Australian bowlers have done; they've created pressure and they've really made it hard to score and they've taken wickets.
"I tend to think that this is nearly more impressive [than 2006/07]. They were the underdogs at the start of the series. England were favourites but after day two at Brisbane I was back to predicting my 5-0.
"The two guys I predicted would have a big effect on the series at the start were David Warner and Mitchell Johnson - I said he's going to have a huge effect on this series. He has been incredible.
"When you've got someone bowling like that - with that pace and hostility - it's amazing. He's shown a lot more consistency than he has in the past. He's had that X-factor; it lifts the whole team and has had the opposite effect on England. When the tail has come in, they've been blown away.
"Brad Haddin is the other man. Johnson is Man of the Series, but Haddin is a close second."
England, who won the toss, had Australia in dire straits at 97-5 before Steve Smith (115) and Brad Haddin (75) turned the home side's fortunes around.
On another frustrating day for the tourists, Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes (6-99) claimed his maiden Test five-wicket haul and McGrath said the 22-year-old is showing plenty of promise.
"I've been impressed with Stokes," he admitted. "I think he's done a great job. He bowls at a deceptive pace - he's up around that 140 km/h mark. He bowls good areas and hurries onto the batsmen.
"He's been fairly consistent and he's handy with the bat as well, so I think he'll be a quality player for England for a long time to come."
After winning the toss, England skipper Alastair Cook said one of the reasons he'd decided to bowl first was because of the amount of green grass on the pitch but McGrath said that, in fact, there hadn't been as much movement as he'd expected on day one.
"I was here on the first with Craig McDermott and he said 'we're both coming out of retirement' because there was so much grass on this wicket!" he said.
"It's a good covering of grass, too. I've never seen so much here. I thought it might have seamed around a bit more but it has played ok.
"There has been a bit of inconsistent bounce. Some go through ok and others really bounce and take off. I'm wondering how Mitchell Johnson will go with the extra pace here. That extra bounce now and again can really unsettle you.
"The pitch will probably flatten out a little bit but I'm not sure about the inconsistency."
Glenn McGrath co-founded the McGrath Foundation with his wife Jane in September 2005 to support women with breast cancer. Since Jane lost her battle in 2008, the Foundation has raised money to fund breast care nurses, working across Australia. More fund-raising activities will take place on day three of The Commonwealth Bank Ashes Pink Test is 'Jane McGrath Day'. Find out more here.
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