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England tap up Proteas for pink-ball insights

James Anderson and England camp to get first taste of pink Kookaburra on Adelaide Test venue this week

Unwilling to heed the insights of arch-rival Mitchell Starc, England's pace bowling spearhead James Anderson has sought input from an alternative foe on how and when the pink ball might misbehave in next month's historic day-night Magellan Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval.

Anderson arrived in Adelaide with his England teammates this afternoon to prepare for the opening first-class fixture of their two-month tour, a four-day match against a Cricket Australia XI to be played with the pink ball and under lights starting on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old, making his fourth Ashes visit to Australia, admits that he and his fellow squad members boast significantly less experience with the newest form of Test cricket than their hosts, given England's sole day-night experience came against the West Indies at Edgbaston earlier this year.

And rather than Starc's recent assessment that the Australia-made pink Kookaburra brand ball is less likely to swing than the England version manufactured by Dukes, Anderson has sought the opinion of players with the most recent Test experience under lights at Adelaide Oval.

The South Africans who were involved in the final Test of their three-match campaign in Adelaide a year ago, a match that a radically revamped Australia team won by seven wickets having been soundly beaten in the previous two (red-ball) Tests in Perth and Hobart.

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"We spoke to the South Africans when we played them in our summer (this year) and they said it was difficult in the twilight period and when the lights came on," Anderson told reporters at Adelaide airport today.

"So we tried to tap into them for as much information as we could.

"We've played one pink-ball Test match in England but not with the Kookaburra, so having the chance to come over here and practice with that and play a first-class game is important for us.

"I guess that's part of the game, trying to find out if the ball does swing and especially what time of day it does it, so it's really useful practice for us."

"Especially playing at Adelaide where the Test match is going to be.

"I've heard that it does swing a bit more, the pink Kookaburra, which is good for all the bowlers, to be honest."

Anderson is either unaware of, or unwilling to accept the contrasting review provided by Starc who – in the wake of completing career-best first-class figures of 8-73 with the pink ball against South Australia earlier this month – claimed England shouldn't expect the Kookaburra ball to swing.

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"They (England) haven't played with a pink Kooka before, I think their pink Dukes (brand ball) swung quite a bit which they won't find with the pink Kookaburra," Starc said.

While facing former Australia limited-overs seamer Gurinder Sandhu and promising Victoria pace prospect Jackson Coleman is unlikely to challenge England's top-order as much as confronting Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, Anderson believes this week's match carries a dual purpose.

It's an opportunity for Joe Root's team to gain some centre-wicket practice under genuine match conditions – last weekend's two-day hit out against a Western Australia XI was more an extended nets session – as well as a pre-Test chance to view the characteristics of the pink ball in situ.

While Adelaide Oval is shaded only by the Sydney Cricket Ground in terms of Test-match returns for England's greatest wicket-taker on Australian soil, Anderson will find the current iteration of the historic venue vastly different from previous visits.

All the wickets for England after day out at the WACA

The once batter-friendly pitch now sports a noticeable thatch of live grass, and in recent years it has become something of a seamer's deck on which big scores have become an exception where they once were the rule.

Against an unheralded CA XI batting line-up, with only skipper and former Australia keeper Tim Paine carrying Test match experience, Anderson and his fellow seamers Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes are expected to find conditions to their liking.

And regardless of whether or not the pink Kookaburra ball swings through the air or darts off the seam (as was the case in the recent JLT Sheffield Shield match between NSW and SA) Anderson is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the second Test starting on December 2.

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Which is likely to be played on a pitch as closely resembling those he left behind in England as any he will ever find in Australia.

"It's something different, certainly in Test matches, but the games I've seen have been fantastic Test matches," Anderson said when asked for his view on day-night Test cricket.

"The game I played in England and the couple of Test matches at the Adelaide Oval, the actual spectacle looks fantastic, especially when you get a full crowd.

"We've got practice tomorrow and then obviously the game is a first-class game so we want to perform well, but also see which stages of the game are important in (the way the ball behaves)."

The veteran bowler was less equivocal, however, when quizzed on whether he is eyeing the England vice-captaincy which was held by allrounder Ben Stokes before his alleged involvement in a late-night street brawl resulted in his exclusion from the touring party while a police investigation continues.

Root is expected to name his interim deputy in coming days, and while Anderson conceded he would not turn down the post if it was offered to him, he claimed he held no designs on the role despite his status as the second-most experienced player in the Test squad (behind ex-captain Alastair Cook).

"It's not something I've really thought about to be honest," Anderson said today.

"My responsibility as a senior player now is to bring experience to the group – myself, Alastair and Stuart Broad all bring experience to the group and our job is to help out where we can.

"There's a lot of players on this tour who have not played in an Ashes series before, not toured Australia before so our job is to try and help out as best we can.

"That's part and parcel of our (role), as a senior player having played over 100 Test matches."

CA XI tour squad: Jake Carder (WA), Jackson Coleman (Vic), Michael Cormack (SA), Daniel Fallins (NSW), Ryan Gibson (NSW), Nick Larkin (NSW), Simon Milenko (Tas), Tim Paine (Tas), Will Pucovski (Vic), Gurinder Sandhu (NSW), Jason Sangha (NSW), Matthew Short (Vic).

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Steven Finn, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21