Jimmy Anderson produced one of the performances of his life to inspire England to a thrilling victory over Australia and his captain, Alastair Cook, claimed no bowler in the world could have done a better job.
Anderson took all four Australian wickets to fall on the final day to help England win by 14 runs. He ended the second innings with 5 for 73 and match figures of 10 for 158, the second time the 30-year-old has taken 10 wickets in a Test.
As England’s other bowlers wilted, Anderson delivered, despite suffering cramp which, thankfully for England, had eased in time for him to bowl after the interval.
“There’s no one else I’d rather have, and in any conditions, now,” Cook said. “The conditions here were subcontinental but he swings it both ways and bowls on an immaculate length.
“When a bowler hits a rhythm, which Jimmy had, you keep asking him if he’s feeling OK. We all know his skill but he had the heart to keep running in on a hot day on a flat wicket and that was outstanding. You worry about his workload in one sense, but when you’re in the middle, it’s irrelevant. It’s about what’s best for the team at that precise time.”
Australia still needed 80 runs when Peter Siddle’s was the ninth wicket to fall, but James Pattinson joined Brad Haddin and, in scenes reminiscent of England’s two-run win at Edgbaston during the 2005 Ashes series, they brought the target within range in an atmosphere of mounting tension.
“I did say that I’d be different from Andrew Strauss, Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain in that I wouldn’t go bald as an England captain, but what happened here might not help me with that,” Cook joked. “We kept quite calm. In the heat of the moment you can panic, but we always felt that with the reverse-swinging ball, we would create chances.”
Despite their defeat, captain Michael Clarke believes Australia performed well enough to demonstrate that they will be a force in this series, the next instalment of which is the second Test, starting at Lord’s on Thursday.
Australia’s touring party was widely derided when they arrived in England earlier this summer and there has been some chaos since. David Warner was banned until the first Test for punching England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar, while coach Mickey Arthur was sacked and replaced by Darren Lehmann just 16 days before the start of the series.
“I’ve become accustomed to that [the team not receiving respect] on every tour,” Clarke said. “Opposition teams have written us off. We will play our best cricket and earn the respect of those people who didn’t give it to us. We have earned a bit of respect through the way we have played. We will give our all. We knew it would be tough. There were people who wrote us off before a ball was bowled but I think we might change a few of their minds.
“It was a pretty tough loss after getting so close. Credit to England – they continued to fight through the five days and they managed to get over the line – but we should hold our heads high. With how close we got in this game, we probably proved to a few people that we are in England to compete.”