Even on a day of poor luck, Anderson's star quality shines through
His duel with Dale Steyn later this summer should be captivating
Friday 18 May 2012
Such are the fortunes of the fast bowler. Jimmy Anderson produced the more accomplished performance, but Stuart Broad did the damage, claiming six West Indies wickets to become only the fifth England player to finish on the Lord's honours board for both batting and bowling.
Broad's burst late in the day gave England the advantage yet Anderson's work was arguably more beguiling. More than five thousand miles separate Lord's from P Sara Oval, and north-west London is ever so slightly chillier than Colombo. Yet whatever the venue and whatever the conditions, Anderson's talent burns brightly.
During the winter, Anderson's mastery over the batsmen counted for little as England lost four of their five Tests, three times to Pakistan and once to Sri Lanka. In home conditions, the Lancastrian expects his work to be of greater benefit, and on a true pitch, England's batsmen must repay their attack leader when they have the chance.
Broad became only the fifth England player, after Gubby Allen, Ray Illingworth, Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, to score a century and take five wickets in Tests at Lord's, but he was also keen to acknowledge Anderson's contribution.
"It probably all started to click for him in the 2008 series in New Zealand," said Broad. "Most bowlers in their early twenties try to bowl a bit too quickly, and then the older you get, the more your body stiffens up so you concentrate on line and length.
"He still bowls quickly enough to get the edges and he's never striving for absolute pace, so he just gives no freebies away. In the opening session he had the batsmen in all sorts of problems.
"That's the experience of the guy now. He knows exactly what he is doing and he is vital to our bowling unit's success."
Anderson was on the mark immediately, claiming two West Indies wickets in an opening nine-over spell of relentless accuracy. He nearly had two more in the afternoon, when he was denied only by poor catching and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's use of the Decision Review System.
Anderson is a diffident character but there is now a quiet assurance about the 29-year-old when he discusses his art. He was named England's Player of the Year on Monday and after Andrew Strauss had won the toss, Anderson began immediately to justify the award.
Kieran Powell scored a century against the Lions last week yet he will never have faced an English bowler of Anderson's class. Powell lost his off stump to a violent in-swinger and stood for a second at the crease, utterly bewildered.
The delivery that removed Kirk Edwards was almost as good. Edwards nearly fell lbw first ball, and he had made only one run when Anderson brought back another into the pads and this time, there was no reprieve. Then, when Adrian Barath and Darren Bravo were rebuilding, Anderson helped dismiss the former with a sharp catch at gully.
Anderson's duel with Dale Steyn, the South African who is ranked the world's No1 bowler, later this summer should be captivating. It is easy to imagine that whoever has the upper hand in that battle will deliver the series to their team. The two pace attacks are the finest in the Test game, but it is the spearheads who set the tone.
Although it was not a perfect day for England, Broad's assault in the final session demonstrated the depth they possess. The young bowlers hoping to force their way into the team must reach an exacting standard.
Before this Test, Anderson joked that he would like to carry on for "15 more years". If only he could, England would be confident of staying at the top for a similar period.
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