James Anderson championed England’s bowlers after they took just 35.2 overs to bowl out India for 107 on the second day of the second Test. In fact, such was the bowling effort from the hosts at Lord’s that Anderson, who took five for 20 – his 26th five-wicket haul – believes this attack could roll out most teams in these conditions.
“Honestly, I’d have been so disappointed if I’d messed up today,” offered Anderson in his post-match press conference. After turning 36 last week, this was a spell that suggests he could lead the attack for a few more years. With cloud cover above and a responsive deck below, he started the innings off with a perfect out-swinger to bowl Murali Vijay and then completed formalities with the final wicket when he trapped Ishant Sharma in front.
He was ably backed up by Chris Woakes (2 for 19), Stuart Broad (1 for 37) and Sam Curran (1 for 26) and, by his estimation, the collective performance of England’s bowlers was one no other line-up could repel. Not even their own batsmen.
“To be honest, I think that if we bowled like that today, with those conditions, we’d bowl most teams in the world out – because I think we were that good,” Anderson effused. “We hardly bowled any bad balls, didn’t give them much to hit at all – and when you build pressure like that all day, no matter who you are around the world, it is difficult.
“I think if we were bowling at our batsmen, we’d have the better of them (too) We exploit those conditions as well as anyone in the world. I don’t think it’s just the Indian batsmen that would have struggled.”
As well as doing the job on the field, England’s ability to maintain pressure throughout the seemingly endless rain delays that punctuated the day was particularly impressive. It would have been easy for them to begin slowly with each restart but with 29.5 overs in front of them in the evening, they seized their opportunity. Earlier stoppages at 10 for 2 and 15 for 3 were particularly grating as England were on top. In the end, it didn’t matter much.
“It’s frustrating when you’re on top, you want to stay out there and keep that pressure on the opposition,” said Anderson. “You feel like it’s a chance for them to regroup and come out to play better. But we coped with that long break really well, and when we came back out, we stuck to our task brilliantly.”
As much as the conditions were tailor-made for Anderson – “honestly, I’d have been so disappointed if I’d messed up today because they were ideal conditions to bowl in” – this was another performance to pop in the scrapbook. The good news for England and English fans is that he reckons there are a few more spells and years left in him.
“All I think about is getting my body in as good a condition as it can be to cope with bowling out in the middle. I was delighted with how many overs I bowled at Edgbaston. For my body to get through that at this age I’m really happy with. I think I mean I’m doing the right stuff off the field.
“But I don’t think about numbers or my age, I feel like, I won’t say 28, but 32. I don’t feel old, I feel like I can still throw myself around in the field as well as anyone else so as long as I feel like that I’m just going to keep playing as long as possible. Hopefully the wickets will keep coming as well and I can help this team keep winning.”
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