James Anderson expects a ferocious and heated battle with Pakistan next month as England attempt to confirm their world No 1 status.
The pace ace says the bitter rivalry means there will be no off-field fraternising or any pleasantries between the players. Anderson insists the antagonism would have existed regardless of the spot-fixing scandal which led to three ex-Pakistan stars being jailed.
But there is no question the shame of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir for their part in the no-ball outrage at Lord’s last year has raised the temperature.
Anderson, 29, England’s premier fast bowler, said: “It was quite a spicy affair when Pakistan came to England last year. There’s definitely history there. I’m not sure that the spot-fixing business will make a difference — it would have been a battle anyway because of the rivalry.
“Test cricket is not very friendly these days, you don’t have a beer at the end of the day. There will be tension but I don’t think it will be caused by the spot-fixing. It will be just because we are two competitive sides.
“There will be a lot of talk about the court case before we leave so it will be up to us to ignore it as much as possible. But I think it was the right outcome to the spot-fixing trial. There’s no place for anything like that in cricket.
“I’d like to think it is not rife within the sport and this is a one-off. But it would be very naive of me to say it has never happened before or will never happen again.
“I can safely say I’ve never been approached and none of the England lads have been. We never get involved in it and, because of that, we sometimes joke about it.
“For example, Australia getting bowled out for 47 against South Africa last month after being 21-9 might have caused a few jokey comments. Cricket is one of those games when ridiculous things can happen. That’s the unfortunate thing — if an outsider watched that Australian innings they might ask ‘Is that for real?’ It’s a shame.”
England reached the pinnacle of Test cricket during their 4-0 home thrashing of India last summer and Andrew Strauss and his men intend staying at No 1. But they face a tough examination against Pakistan’s mystery spinners on surfaces in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that are sure to turn.
And it was only in October that England lost a one-day series 5-0 to India in similar conditions. Anderson was rested for that tour and is in South Africa with Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett and part of England’s development squad.
He added: “We want to stay No 1 for as long as possible. The way we do that is by winning series abroad. We seem to be a tough test at home but we really need to dominate away as well.