Many happy returns for Anderson
James Anderson eventually had plenty to celebrate on his 28th birthday thanks to a five-wicket haul which put England in control of the opening npower Test against Pakistan at Trent Bridge.
Anderson ended the second day with 5-49 but had earlier been out for a golden duck after playing no shot to Mohammad Asif as England collapsed from 337 for four to 354 all out.
The suspicion was that England’s best swing bowler would have a perfect chance to make amends for his batting failure on one of his favourite grounds, and so it proved as Pakistan lurched to 47 for six and eventually 147 for nine when bad light brought an early close to a cloudy day.
“It didn’t start out too well, but a few wickets at the end meant it finished on a happy note,” said Anderson after helping Steven Finn, who claimed 3-20, run through the tourists’ top order.
“I didn’t think it swung as much as it did yesterday, which probably helped get the edge a bit more today. But I thought all of us made best use of the conditions.”
Anderson’s ninth five-wicket haul in Tests came at the scene of his career-best 7-43 against New Zealand two years ago.
“It’s been good to me the last couple of times I’ve been here,” he agreed. “Certain grounds do tend to swing every time you come, and this is one of them.”
Anderson’s outstanding performance served to highlight his worth to the England team at a time when there is a growing threat to his place from a talented crop of seamers.
He did not seek to hide that fact either, but insists the pace rivalry can only be good for the team.
“There’s been a lot of competition over the last few months, and a couple of guys have been unlucky to miss out this week,” Anderson said.
“I think that’s really healthy, and what you need in a team to succeed. All three of us (seamers) have got to keep on producing good performances to keep our spots. All of us are under pressure.”
Anderson, Finn and Stuart Broad bowled England into a position from which captain Andrew Strauss may yet to be able to enforce the follow-on. Pakistan need another eight runs tomorrow to preclude that possibility.
Lancashire fast bowler Anderson added: “It’s something we have to weigh up tomorrow.
“There’s a lot to take into consideration - the freshness of the bowlers, which is pretty good at the moment, and conditions in the morning. But first and foremost we’ve got to get another wicket.”
Pakistan captain Salman Butt believes Anderson is one of the world’s outstanding swing bowlers, and describes England’s attack as more dangerous than Australia’s - in the conditions which have prevailed in this country in recent weeks.
“I think they were wonderful,” he said. “The lines and lengths were very good, and Anderson was a different (class) bowler.
“He stood out for England. He was the one who mainly created what happened. The others bowled well, but he was the stand-out man.
“Not many bowlers in the world bowl both ’swings’ with that much control.”
England’s advantageous position has come about in part because they have had better luck than their opponents with the decision review system.
Anderson said: “It’s trickier than it seems, and something we’re having to get used to. We’ve probably not used it as well as we could in the past. But I think we’ve used it pretty well so far in this game.”
Pakistan number three Azhar Ali did not call on DRS, even though he would have been reprieved thanks to the apparent failure of the ‘Hot Spot’ to detect an edge behind off Anderson.
Butt said: “This technology is not 100%. When the ball hits the sticker on the side (of the bat) it doesn’t leave a (‘Hot Spot’) mark.
“But the point is if the batsman knows he has hit the ball there’s no point taking a chance, because if it’s up there on the big screen it’s pretty embarrassing.
“It was very honest of Azhar Ali - good sportsmanship. He edged it and he walked straightaway.
“He knew he was out, so there’s no point taking the referral. If you are found out on the big screen, it doesn’t look nice.”