It is an obvious truth, handed down by the experts on tablets of stone, that James Anderson still has much to learn. Only heaven can help the batsmen on this earth if and when he acquires the extra knowledge.
On his Test debut, Anderson yesterday undermined Zimbabwe and propelled England towards a rapid and comfortable victory by an innings and 92 runs. It was a clean kill against a foe who were largely defenceless.
Zimbabwe lost 19 wickets in the day, the last of them at 7.32pm after England had claimed the additional half- hour with the light fading more rapidly than the tourists' wickets. Anderson's youthful heroics were all performed in the early part of the day, when he took 5 for 73, the last four for five runs in 14 balls.
He went without a victim in the second innings as Zimbabwe's threatened early resistance crumbled to the Lancastrian's fellow debutant, Anthony McGrath, who took three wickets, and the gentle swing of Mark Butcher, who took four.
It was not a gallant way for Zimbabwe to go. They were hopelessly out of their depth, almost ready for defeat. They were simply not good enough and it will be difficult for them to regroup before the Second Test in Chester-le-Street.
England did not bowl as well as they might have done and Mark Vermeulen, for one, refused to be intimidated by the first-innings deficit of 325 runs. But the feeling was never dissipated that resistance was futile.
It was not an even contest, and it was never likely to be so. But those who rail against Zimbabwe's right to take part should recall the litany of poor teams who have been trotted out before in English summers. Weak Test countries are not a new phenomenon, though that does not entirely rule out the possibility that Zimbabwe may yet come to be known as the weakest to tour this country.
The overriding point of importance for England was to beat what was put in front of them. For the opening two days, in conditions that seam bowlers would like to bottle, they diligently developed a position from which it was impossible to lose. Their rigour on the third day was undiminished.
Anderson had bowled nervously and on both sides of the pitch on Friday night. He was only slightly less inaccurate in the early stages of yesterday. This should have been hardly less than expected. He is 20 and in his first Test, at the home of cricket.
As his captain, Nasser Hussain, liked to point out when Anderson was performing wonders for the one-day team in the winter: "He's come from Burnley Third XI to England in six months." Not quite, but Hussain was making a worthy point he's got a lot to learn.
The lad from Burnley went for 10 fours, so much width did he give the ball, and he was hardly unerring in the second innings. At one point, given the nature of sporting heroism in this country, he was in danger of going from wonder boy to fall guy in a game. But he is made of the right stuff. Do not expect too much too soon, but make the most of his golden arm.
The difference was perhaps in the change of ends. He had started at the Nursery End, though his style may be more suited to the Pavilion End because of the Lord's slope. Suddenly, he began bowling straight, always his most potent weapon when he is pitching it up and swinging it late. Suddenly, Zimbabwe were cast completely out of the match. In successive balls Anderson removed Heath Streak and Travis Friend, both playing round deliveries that were pinpoint accurate.
He had to wait an over for his hat-trick ball. No England bowler had ever taken a hat-trick in a Test at Lord's. Nor have they still, though it was a close thing. It seared its way past Ray Price's hesitant bat.
The end came quickly enough. Andy Blignaut was caught at first slip, trying to turn one to leg, Douglas Hondo had no clue about the ball which knocked into his middle and off stumps.
The second innings followed a similar pattern, early defiance followed by swift collapse. This time, however, it was the unlikely combination of Butcher and McGrath who did the bulk of the damage after Vermeulen's aggressive innings was ended.
There were far too many loose shots, played against bowling which was far from threatening. Zimbabwe caved in, and this with England shelling three catches.
The day had dawned brightly for the first time in the match, and while there was still something on offer for the bowlers the altered conditions demanded more of them. Hussain changed the bowling seven times before lunch, partly no doubt because he was unhappy with his bowlers, partly to refuse the Zimbabweans any opportunity to settle.
There was a tendency to become greedy for wickets, but Zimbabwe lost four in the morning and nine in 38 overs. A side cannot impose their authority more impressively.
Stuart Carlisle was, almost inevitably, caught at first slip, Grant Flower nudged one to short leg, Dion Ebrahim, after a stay which defied the orthodoxies of batting, poked to gully. There were to be some pleasing shots from the fearless and diminutive Tatenda Taibu, but he gave the deserving Stephen Harmison his only first-innings wicket.
All this time, Matthew Hoggard had been, unfussily, England's best bowler. If he did not make the batsmen play quite enough, his effort was typically admirable. He was slower than before, but he was swinging the ball. After his winter he deserved this. Then came the Anderson Show.
Victory will be pleasant for England, but it should serve as a platform for things to come. It also provides the selectors with a slight problem: if Andrew Flintoff should declare his fitness do they leave out McGrath after his impressive debut? If they mean business the answer should be yes.
There were two oddities in the proceedings. Butcher, who had batted with genuine assertiveness for his 137, came on as the fourth seam bowler. He gives it a generous wobble through the air and has taken wickets before. But since he had not turned his arm over this season it seemed optimistic to expect him to play such a leading role at international level. Selectorial luck (or rather skill) told. He took wickets, all right.
Hussain did not glance in the first innings at his specialist left-arm spin bowler, Ashley Giles. Giles was prominent only for his fielding at third slip, where he dropped Streak. This was excusable, because anybody can drop them in the slips, though this one was as straightforward as they are likely to come in the position.
Giles rarely appears there for Warwickshire. It seems strange to expect him to assume the mantle for England. Such things can matter when the going gets tougher.
It did not matter against this opposition. Seven of them made double figures, but in an insecure fashion which never promised riches. The ninth-wicket stand of 51 in the second innings between Friend and Price was entertaining enough but merely delayed the inevitable.
Could they see it into a fourth day? In the event they could not, as Giles at last got into the act thanks to a ricochet off Robert Key at short-leg which carried to midwicket. Butcher, man of the moment, finished it off.
nPower Test scoreboard
Zimbabwe won toss
England- First Innings
M E Trescothick c Ervine b Blignaut 59
M P Vaughan b Streak 8
M A Butcher c Vermeulen b Price 137
N Hussain c Hondo b Friend 19
R W T Key c Taibu b Streak 18
A J Stewart c Taibu b Streak 26
A McGrath b Ervine 69
A F Giles b Blignaut 52
S J Harmison c Ebrahim b Ervine 0
M J Hoggard c Ebrahim b Blignaut (TV replay) 19
J M Anderson not out 4
Extras (b14, lb27, w3, nb17) 61
Total (133.1 overs) 472
Fall: 1-45 (Vaughan), 2-121 (Trescothick), 3-165 (Hussain), 4-204 (Key), 5-274 (Stewart), 6-342 (Butcher), 7-408 (McGrath), 8-408 (Harmison), 9-465 (Hoggard), 10-472 (Giles).
Bowling: Streak 37-9-99-3 (nb3, w1) (12-3-38-1, 8-2-17-0, 4-1-11-1, 1-0-2-0, 4-3-1-1, 4-0-19-0, 4-0-11-0), Blignaut 26.1-4-96-3 (nb1, w1) (9-3-21-0, 5-1-11-1, 6-0-17-0, 1-0-5-0, 3-0-27-0, 2.1-0-15-2), Hondo 14-4-45-0 (nb6, w1) (4-0-23-0, 7-3-13-0, 3-1-9-0), Ervine 22-5-95-2 (nb6) (6-0-25-0, 1-1-0-0, 3-1-7-0, 4-2-18-0, 2-0-6-0, 6-1-39-2), Friend 13-2-49-1 (nb1) (4-1-12-1, 5-0-21-0, 4-1-16-0), Price 20-6-44-1 (4-0-6-0, 16-6-38-1), Flower 1-0-3-0.
Zimbabwe - First Innings
D D Ebrahim c McGrath b Butcher 68
M A Vermeulen b Anderson 1
S V Carlisle c Trescothick b Hoggard 11
G W Flower c Key b Hoggard 3
T Taibu c Hoggard b Harmison 25
S M Ervine lbw b Hoggard 4
H H Streak b Anderson 10
A M Blignaut c Butcher b Anderson 3
T J Friend b Anderson 0
R W Price not out 7
D T Hondo b Anderson 0
Extras (b4, lb4, w1, nb6) 15
Total (240 min, 55 overs) 147
Fall: 1-20 (Vermeulen), 2-64 (Carlisle), 3-79 (Flower), 4-104 (Ebrahim), 5-109 (Ervine), 6-129 (Taibu), 7-133 (Streak), 8-133 (Friend), 9-147 (Blignaut), 10-147 (Hondo).
Bowling: Hoggard 18-8-24-3 (nb1) (8-3-10-0, 7-4-10-2, 3-1-4-1), Anderson 16-4-73-5 (nb3) (5-3-20-1, 1-0-8-0, 3-0-21-0, 1-0-4-0, 6-1-20-4), Harmison 16-5-36-1 (nb4) (7-3-15-0, 3-0-14-0, 6-2-7-1), Butcher 5-2-8-1 (w1) (one spell).
Progress: Second day: bad light stopped play 7.02pm. Close 48-1 (Ebrahim 40, Carlisle 4) 17 overs. Third day (min 105 overs) 50 in 79 min, 19 overs. 100 in 153 min, 35.1 overs. Lunch 120-5 (Taibu 17, Streak 6) 45 overs. Innings closed 2.12pm.
Ebrahim 50: 118 min, 96 balls, 7 fours.
Zimbabwe - Second Innings
D D Ebrahim c Key b Harmison 6
M A Vermeulen c Trescothick b Butcher 61
S V Carlisle lbw b Butcher 24
G W Flower c Trescothick b Harmison 26
ÝT Taibu c Butcher b McGrath 16
S M Ervine c Trescothick b McGrath 4
*H H Streak lbw McGrath 11
A M Blignaut b Butcher 6
T J Friend c Giles b Butcher 43
R W Price c Trescothick b Giles 26
D T Hondo not out 0
Extras (b1, lb6, w3) 10
Total (290 min, 68.5 overs) 233
Fall: 1-11 (Ebrahim), 2-92 (Vermeulen), 3-95 (Carlisle), 4-128 (Taibu), 5-132 (Ervine), 6-150 (Streak), 7-158 (Blignaut), 8-168 (Flower), 9-219 (Price), 10-233 (Friend).
Bowling: Anderson 15-4-65-0 (2-0-7-0, 5-0-25-0, 6-4-7-0, 2-0-26-0), Hoggard 15-5-35-0 (1-0-4-0, 5-1-15-0, 6-3-7-0, 3-1-9-0), Harmison 12-4-35-2 (w1) (4-1-12-1, 1-0-11-0, 2-1-4-0, 5-2-8-1), Giles 8-2-15-1 (5-1-8-0, 3-1-7-1), Butcher 12.5-0-60-4 (w2) (1-0-3-0, 4-0-14-0, 2-0-6-0, 3-0-13-1, 2.5-0-24-1), McGrath 6-1-16-3 (one spell).
Progress: Third day: 50 in 67 min, 15 overs. Tea 75-1 (Vermeulen 46, Carlisle 21), 23 overs. 100 in 133 min, 31.4 overs. 150 in 213 min, 51.4 overs. 200 in 273 min, 64.4 overs. Innings closed 7.32pm.
Vermeulen 50: 97 min, 71 balls, 6 fours.
England won by an innings and 92 runs. Man of the Match: M A Butcher.
Umpires: S A Bucknor (WI), D L Orchard (SA). TV replay umpire: N A Mallender.
Match referee: C H Lloyd.