On afternoons like that at Eden Gardens today it was possible to think of Jimmy Anderson in the same breath as Duke Ellington. Masters of swing both and for a while there, Anderson could have been playing "Mood Indigo" the way he was making the ball move to his will.
He has bided his time for a pitch like this in India, something rough enough to give the arcane skill of reverse swing a chance to shine, so to speak. It arrived yesterday and Anderson, with 3-68 in 21 overs of high class and intelligent fast bowling, was finally at home.
"I felt pretty good all day," he said. "I felt I bowled pretty well with the new ball first up and then once we got it reversing it made my job a lot easier to attack and get wickets out here. We have had hints of it reversing in the last two games but nothing like here."
Anderson has had a quiet couple of matches, though he had taken all England's wickets to fall to fast bowling – two in number – and still has the monopoly, now up to five. But what reverse there has been India have tended to find more of.
One way of making it much more difficult to play, however, is by concealing the ball from the batsman as Anderson does. This trick, it turns out, came from an original idea by Zaheer Khan, who was doubtless in lip licking mode on seeing Anderson.
"I remember a few years back, the last tour here and Zaheer did it a lot," said Anderson. "That is when I started practising it. It has proved to be a good skill."
He was made up by Sachin Tendulkar's wicket for the eighth time. Only Muttiah Muralitharan has dismissed Tendulkar as often.
"It is a nice thing to have and I will probably think more about it in years to come and tell people that it happened.
It is just one of those things. I don't bowl better at him than I do anyone else." But as he showed again yesterday, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.
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