Anderson is Cook's recipe for success
James Anderson’s bowling, says Bikash Mohapatra, was the difference between England and Australia in the just-concluded first Test in Nottingham.
When James Anderson had Peter Siddle caught by Alastair Cook at first slip on the fifth morning of the opening Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, England seemed to have the match in the bag.
Australia were reduced to 231 for nine, needing a further 80 runs to win. It seemed a lost cause for the visitors.
Anderson had bowled 13 overs in succession that morning and picked three wickets in the process, running through the Aussie tail. With his team in sight of victory, the 30-year-old palpably took a well-deserved break.
However, with England’s main bowler off the field, the visitor’s mounted a last-ditch effort, one last attempted to score what seemed an improbable win. And they almost succeeded.
With England needing just one wicket to seal victory lunch was delayed, but Brad Haddin (71) and James Pattinson (25 not out) prolonged the home team’s wait by adding 65 runs for the final wicket.
Image: James Anderson of England celebrates the final wicket of Brad Haddin of Australia and victory with team mates during day five of the 1st Investec Ashes Test match between England and Australia at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Haddin and Pattinson threatened to take the match out of England's grasp
A 163-run last-wicket stand between debutant Ashton Agar (98) and Phillip Hughes (81 not out) in the first innings had helped Australia to a vital 65-run lead, against the run of play.
Now, Haddin and Pattinson threatened to take the match out of England’s grasp. At least, their resilience forced a second session; one that seemed unlikely after Anderson’s early burst.
No team had ever chased more than 300 to win a Test match at Trent Bridge. Australia were almost there. At lunch, the visitors had scored 291 for nine, just 20 adrift of their target.
With his other bowlers failing to make an impact, Cook was forced to ask an overused Anderson to bowl yet another spell, immediately after resumption.
It took the bowler 11 balls, all dots, to ensure his side that final wicket. He had Haddin caught behind, albeit with the help of a review (read umpire Marias Erasmus).
In the final analysis it did not matter. England won the Test by 14 runs.
Image: Brad Haddin of Australia hits out off the bowling of Steven Finn
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Highest wicket-taker at Trent Bridge
Anderson’s first innings figures (five for 85) saw him surpass the legendary Alec Bedser (41 wickets) as the highest wicket-taker at Trent Bridge. He now has 49 wickets at the Nottingham venue.
His five for 73 in the second not only gave him a 10-wicket match-haul (10 for 158) for only the second time in his career – the first having also come at the same venue, 11 for 71 against Pakistan in 2010 – but also left him just eight short of the legendary Bob Willis (with 325 wickets), England’s second best bowler in Tests after Sir Ian Botham (383).
With four Tests left to be played in the series it is only a matter of time before Anderson surpasses Willis’s tally. Don’t be surprised if achieves the same in the second Test, starting Thursday. For, the venue, Lord’s, is one where he is the most prolific – 58 of his 317 Test scalps having come in at the Mecca of cricket.
Image: James Anderson of England celebrates the wicket of Chris Rogers of Australia during day four of the 1st Investec Ashes Test match between England and Australia at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leader of the pack
Saying Anderson is England’s best bowler in recent times would be akin to stating the obvious. Statistics corroborate the fact, the bowler having taken 255 wickets since 2008, playing a starring role in most of England’s wins during the time.
In fact, when England sealed a historic series win on Indian soil late last year, Cook didn’t hesitate in saying Anderson was the difference between the two teams. (Who can forget those spells on the docile wickets in Kolkata and Nagpur?)
It wasn’t surprising, therefore, that in his first Ashes Test as England captain Cook had to repeatedly rely on his strike bowler to deliver the goods.And Anderson obliged!
Image: James Anderson of England celebrates taking his fifth wicket
Photographs: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images