“World cricket is gearing up for another Clash of the Titans and Anderson is ready for it”
In the second Test at Galle, James Anderson completed his 30th five-wicket haul in Test cricket – six short of the great Sir Richard Hadlee and one more than the marvelous Glenn McGrath. At the age of 38, there is no slowing down for Jimmy and he is a freak – with time and age, he seems to improve in every Test match he plays.
During the debate between Jimmy and Dale Steyn – Steyn always had the edge over his counterpart regarding records away from home and especially on Asian conditions. But, that magnificent Steyn surrendered to injury while Anderson has gone on to bag 600 Test wickets in an era where the rules, conditions, and even the willow are heavily in favour of the batters.
One cannot but praise his persistence and respect for Test cricket.
At Galle, he was challenged by the heat, humidity, and unfriendly deck, still he extracted life out of the surface to bag six wickets at the age of 38 and no seamer has taken a 5-wicket haul at this age – Sir Richard Hadlee t 37 years and 145 days, was the previous record holder.
Again, this was the first time since 2001 that all 10 wickets in an innings had been taken by the seamers in a Test in Sri Lanka, which tells about the skill and temperament of the English pacers on the Asian decks.
Anderson would travel to India next and one cannot deny his love affair with India.
Success in the Ashes garners more attention for the Australian and English cricketers, but it’s against India that Anderson has had the most success – 110 wickets in 27 Tests at an average of 25.98, better than his overall 26.79 and far better than his record versus Australia, 104 wickets at 34.56 in 32 Tests.
Anderson has helped England win four of the five Test series against India since he transformed himself into one of the world’s best proponents of swing with a masterful performance in the 2010 Ashes in Australia, which England won.
In India, he averages 33.46 from 10 Test matches with 26 wickets – yes the numbers don’t tell the true story about his impact. During the tour of 2006, his brilliant 4-wicket haul in Mumbai helped England to level the series, and before that the 4-wicket haul in Nagpur was brilliant as well.
In that eventful Test series in 2012, he featured in just one Test and again, proved his worth on a ran-turner with three wickets in the first and second innings at Kolkata. England won and took the lead by 2-1 and the drawn roster in Bengaluru orchestrated a memorable away win for Alastair Cook and his men.
During the last tour in 2016-17, England and Anderson experienced a heavy beating, which they paid back in 2018, but right now another challenge is waiting for Anderson in India, whose confidence is sky-high after the historic series win in Australia with a second-string side.
Beating India in India is the toughest task for any team in the world.
It is the final frontier for the top Test teams in the world and Anderson is well aware of this.
But, Anderson is a fighter and over the years learned the tricks to conquer the conditions better.
A few years back, Sachin Tendulkar explained why Anderson’s deliveries were so difficult to read. Anderson, he said, is the only one who could bowl a “reverse outswinger” with a wrist position for a conventional inswinger.
“Anderson was possibly the first who bowled reverse swing also reverse,” Tendulkar said. By changing the wrist position quickly, he forced the batsman to commit to a shot. “What I experienced, over a period of time, was that he would hold the ball as if bowling outswinger but at the release, point would try and bring the ball back in… he’s shown you he’s bowling inswing but the imbalance between the two sides of the ball would take it away from you.”
“He’s got you to commit to play for an inswinger and the ball, after covering almost three-fourths of the length of the pitch, starts leaving you… That was something which was new to me. Nobody had done that.”
Anderson had great success against Tendulkar, dismissing him nine times in 27 innings, or in every third instance.
When someone like Tendulkar shower praise for a bowler you need to understand the standard of his quality.
When the Indian Test era transitioned from Tendulkar to Kohli, Anderson remained England’s constant threat.
He has dismissed Kohli five times in 32 innings. Anderson dominated Kohli in the 2014 home series, removing him four times as the batsman averaged 13.4, not managing a fifty in 10 innings.
Last year, Anderson said that he looks forward to a tough battle against India captain Virat Kohli during the tour of India next year.
“It’s always tough bowling against batsmen of that quality. Obviously, I’ve had some success against him in 2014, and then he came back a completely different player in 2018 and it was incredible. It will be a tough battle in that respect, but that’s something I do enjoy against the best players. As a bowler, you want to get the best players out.”
Asked what changes he noticed in Kohli’s batting in 2018, Anderson said, “I just felt he left the ball really well [in 2018]. The first time he came over [in 2014] when I was bowling an outswinger, he might chase it early on, so that brought the edge and the slips into play.”
“I just felt like he left a lot better and he was a lot more patient [in 2018]. He waited for you to come to him because he’s very strong off his legs; he got more off that shot. And once he got any start, he played a bit more expansively. His all-round game, both his mental approach and his technique, was that little bit better.”
World cricket is gearing up for another Clash of the Titans and Anderson is ready for it.