Swinging Anderson calls the tune
James Anderson continued his love affair with Trent Bridge as England opened the npower Test series with a 354-run mauling of Pakistan.
The Lancashire seamer produced arguably the greatest performance of his career to claim 6-17 and bowl Pakistan out for 80 - their lowest total against England - before lunch on day four.
It gave him match figures of 11-71 on the ground which also witnessed his previous Test best of 9-98 against New Zealand two years ago.
Anderson was endorsing captain Andrew Strauss’ pre- and post-match conviction that there is no bowler better in the world “when the ball is swinging”.
The man himself spoke with justifiable pride at taking 10 wickets in the match for the first time in his Test career. “This is fantastic - a great feeling,” he said.
Asked if he could remember bowling better, Anderson said: “It’s up there. I bowled with very good patience in both innings. I didn’t get greedy, or try to bowl the magic ball too much.”
Anderson’s fondness for a venue that is increasingly helpful to swing bowlers is obvious - he has now taken 28 wickets at 15.89 apiece in four Tests - but he admits he and the England management have plans in place for when there is less lateral movement in the air.
“I find it a little bit easier when it swings,” he said. “You do want to make the most of it because it doesn’t always go your way.
“One thing we've talked about is trying to concentrate on it not swinging. Our main aim is to bowl maidens, create pressure from both ends.
“If it swings we can bowl slightly more attacking. Most of our focus in preparation for games has been it not swinging.”
Anderson has endured a tough season at times - left out of England’s ICC World Twenty20-winning team, faring well in two Tests against Bangladesh but struggling for wickets in the mid-summer one-day internationals.
“It’s not been my greatest summer so far,” the 28-year-old admitted. “But I always felt I was bowling well through the one-day series, even though my figures might have shown otherwise.
“I wasn’t coming into this game low on confidence. I managed to get rhythm early in the game, got the rub of the green, got the nicks - and catches in the slips.”
Anderson reserved special praise for a slip cordon that performed nigh on faultlessly throughout, most notably this morning when Paul Collingwood held two splendid catches off Anderson to account for Umar Gul and Shoaib Malik.
“I think that’s probably the best performance from our slips - ever, really - that I’ve seen this morning,” Anderson said. “It was fantastic. All the work they’ve been doing has paid off.”
Anderson was also quick to share the credit with his fellow bowlers; Stuart Broad claimed 2-23 and Steven Finn 2-28 in a Pakistan second innings lasting just 29 overs.
“The way Finny and Broady bowled helped me at the other end,” he said. “Obviously if they’re giving away easy runs it’s going to make it harder for me.”
Finn was pleased with his five wickets in the game - he boasts 24 wickets at an average of 21.79 in five Tests - but knows there is still work to do.
“There were areas that frustrated me but I found it was nice to get back out there and take a few wickets,” he said.
“It’s been fantastic so far. It’s great to come into a side that’s been successful and winning games.
“I feel I’ve fitted in really well and I’m enjoying it but there’s a lot of work to be done in the next three games to make sure we nail the series.”
Broad accepts the match could have been a lot tighter had Pakistan performed as well as England in the field.
“Their bowlers, with a bit more luck, could have got through us a bit quicker,” he said.
“Our catching behind the wicket was fantastic. The way they caught, especially Colly at first slip, was fantastic. If we can continue that we’ll be in a really good place this winter.
“We’re very focused on what we have to do. We have very clear plans and we executed them well in this Test match.”