"I feel like we could just be a little bit more biased towards our own team."
James Anderson has lamented the pitches offered up this Ashes series.
England have relinquished the urn after succumbing to defeat at Headingley, with Australia taking a 2-1 lead into the final Test at the Oval, which begins on Thursday. As the previous winners in 2017/18, the tourists will retain the urn if the series is tied.
Victory in the opening Test at Edgbaston, which Anderson played in before getting injured after bowling four overs, followed by a win at Old Trafford sealed Australia's successful defense. Both are traditional English strongholds.
Anderson, who is recovering from a calf injury that ended his summer after the opening Test, feels more could have been done to make use of home advantage.
"Not really, if we're being brutally honest," answered Anderson when asked if the pitches provided enough assistance. "I think they've probably suited Australia more than us. I would have liked to have seen a bit more grass but that's the nature of the game here. When you're selling out - like Lancashire selling out five days of Test cricket - it's hard not to produce a flat deck but, you know, that's one of the frustrations from a player's point of view. We go to Australia and get pitches that suit them. They come over here and get pitches that suit them. It doesn't seem quite right.
"Even like last year - I thought they were good pitches here against India. I thought they weren't green seamers but I thought they suited us more than India. We as a country or cricket team, cricket board, don't use home advantage enough. As I said when you go to Australia, go to India, Sri Lanka, they prepare pitches that suit them. I feel like we could just be a little bit more biased towards our own team."
Anderson, though, was keen to give Australia's attack credit, particularly their pace attack, led by Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. The pair have taken 24 and 18 wickets, respectively, while keeping runs to a minimum. While Stuart Broad (19) and Jofra Archer (16) have also had run roughshod over the opposition batting line-up, the visiting pair have had the edge overall.
"Their bowlers have just been pretty relentless - so consistent in the areas they've bowled," said Anderson. "Pat Cummins is the best bowler in the world because he hits the top of off stump at 85mph-plus regularly, and he' got a really good Plan B - bowls a good bouncer. It's quite simple what they do, but it's really effective because they do it so consistently."
Things might have been different had Anderson not been sat on the sidelines since bowling just four overs on the opening day of the Ashes in Edgbaston after a reoccurrence of a calf injury sustained in July in a County Championship match against Durham.
After a couple of weeks of rehab following the flare-up, it looked like Anderson was making steady progress. Unfortunately, during a 2nd XI match against Durham, after bowling more than 20 overs, felt his calf go once more. He was subsequently ruled out of the rest of the summer.
The immediate disadvantage was England's inability to finish off Australia in the first innings, only bowling out the tourists for 284 having reduced them to 122 for eight. While the hosts' bowling attack has performed admirably in his absence, with Steve Smith the only player to turn the tables on them, not having the most successful pace bowler in Test history has been a blow.
After his false-starts this summer, Anderson wants to give his calf as much time as it needs to ensure these final stages of his career are not defined or curtailed by it.
The Test side's next assignment is in New Zealand, with the first of two Test beginning on November 20th. A four-Test series against South Africa, beginning on Boxing Day, follows. The gap is a godsend: Anderson and his calf will be able to recover at a reasonable pace.
"That would be great if I'm fit for that," said Anderson of the New Zealand tour. "If not, then South Africa would be next on the list. We'll just have to wait and see. It's been a really annoying couple of months with it.
"With the time pressure and this series trying to get it ready, it's not been able to cope with that. So I want to give it time to heal. I don't want to have to answer 'how is your calf?' ever again."
He is also looking to prolong his worth to the side. At 37, he has highlighted lifestyle changes as a way of doing so. He wants to take cues from Ryan Giggs, the former Manchester United and Wales left-winger who retired at the age of 40, taking up yoga to add a few seasons onto his career. Anderson has also considered turning vegan, though says his wife is not a fan.
Whatever he decides, and the next few months and weeks will determine which direction he takes will be fuelled by his belief that he still has much to give. He is not ready to call it quits at 575 Test wickets.
"When I start this rehab, I'm going to try and investigate every possible avenue of what do I need to do at my age to keep myself in good shape. I feel in really good condition. I feel as fit as I ever have. It's just the calf keeps twanging.
"I'll look at how other sportspeople have done it throughout their careers to keep going into their late 30s. Whether there's anything specific I can do, diet, gym program, supplements, whatever it might be. Because I've still got a real hunger and desire to play cricket. I still love the game and still feel like I can offer something to this team and still have the skills and can bowl quick enough to have a positive effect."
"It'll be an ongoing process through the rest of my career, trying not to eke out every last drop. I still feel like I can be the best bowler in the world. So as long as I've got that mentality I'm going to keep pushing myself."
*James Anderson was speaking on behalf of 'The Test Experts' Specsavers, Official Test Partner of the England cricket team ahead of the final Test of the Specsavers Ashes Series at The Oval