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Tireless Anderson targeting extra pace

England's spearhead believes he can still improve as he readies his body for one final push in Sydney

Evergreen paceman James Anderson believes a thick skin and a pantomime villain new-ball partner have aided his survival through four Ashes tours to Australia, as the 35-year-old continues to target methods to improve his fast-bowling arsenal.

Anderson has become the 13th player to take 100 wickets against Australia during this ongoing Magellan Ashes series, while also claiming his first five-wicket haul down under in the second Test in Adelaide before going past Courtney Walsh in Melbourne as the second-highest wicket-taker among fast bowlers in Test history.

Anderson claims maiden five-wicket haul in Australia

The accolades speak to his longevity as well as his skill with both new ball and old, however the veteran quick suggests there's more to it than those two traits combined.

"I think you've got to have a thick skin, definitely," Anderson said following the drawn fourth Test. "Whether you're on the field and you've got to try to block out … there was a guy shouting at me today, 'You can't bowl with a Kookaburra'. And I said, 'You might have a point there.' Try to brush it off in your own way. It does help to be like that.

"I think I've got away with that side of things (in terms of ridicule from cricket fans in Australia). (Stuart) Broady's taken the brunt of the stick over here. Takes the focus off me a little. But, again, (the comments are) mixed; a lot of people sort of have been kind and other people not so."

Despite being much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, Anderson believes he can acquire more skills in order to improve his potency as a bowler. A priority on that front, he says, is pace, something he is seeking while simultaneously being satisfied with his fitness and form.

"I've got into good rhythm and good form, a good place mentally and just really stuck to what I've been doing, what's worked for me over the course of the summer," said the Lancashire quick, who has taken 16 wickets in the four Ashes Tests to lead the way for England.

"Coming out here, I feel like my form has continued and I feel like my skills are in a good place. I know it's a bit late, but if I can add another five (kilometres) onto my bowling, that would be great. But I just feel like I'm in a good place."

The right-armer found himself briefly the focal point of media interest during the Boxing Day Test when vision of him cleaning the ball during Australia's second innings was queried by Shane Warne and Michael Slater on the Nine Network. Fellow ex-Test player Mike Hussey then suggested "there might be a little bit of a 'please explain' there for Jimmy Anderson", however any notion of ball tampering was quickly dismissed by the match officials.

I'd love to play in front of my home crowd: Agar

"(I was) getting dirt off the ball," Anderson said. "They'd watered the square so the footholes on old wickets had mud. (I) went to the umpires to make sure they were happy with it. It was the shiny side."

Anderson said conditions in Australia made the short turnaround of four days between the Melbourne and Sydney Tests that much more challenging, however he was confident his body would be right to go for the final match despite sending down 59 overs – the equal-third most of his 133-Test career.

"I should sleep well for the next few days," he said. "The Tests are not completely back-to-back. Hopefully, I'll pull up OK. I'll do what I can in the next few days, use the physio, try to get my body back.

"It's the same for all of us. It takes so much out of you. The pitches over here are absolutely rock-hard, the foot-holes get so uneven, (it) takes it out of your ankles and knees. It's important to recover.

"It would mean a lot to the lads and all the English support we've had over here (to win in Sydney)."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Ashton Agar.

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

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

Third Test Australia won by an innings and 41 runs. Scorecard

Fourth Test MCG, drawn. Scorecard

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

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

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

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

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

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