MUMBAI: At 38 going on 39, the most widely noted presumption in the case of James Anderson lately has been that he won’t be touring India again. But isn’t that a discussion for another time?
Right now, he’s here and India have got to do something about it. The 157-Test and 606-wicket veteran, England’s proverbial ‘old dog’ with a bite sharper than anyone else in their long history, will stand between India and their quest to make the World Test Championship final later this year.
And how has he made his presence felt already? By becoming the oldest seamer to pick a five-wicket haul in Asia recently when he single-handedly polished off the Sri Lankan top order at Galle to set-up England’s eventual six-wicket win.
When England landed in Chennai last week and got their first feel of Chepauk, they wouldn’t have felt all at sea. There is a good chance that the second Test will allow them to bowl on a strip that has black soil, instead of the spin-friendly red that’ll be available in the first game. Any hope of letting loose that famous ‘reverse-reverse’ – as Sachin Tendulkar had pointed out in Anderson’s bowling last year – will most certainly come alive.
Until then, they have to wait and in that lies Anderson’s big challenge. Can he? Certainly. Only Dale Steyn has better figures in the sub-continent for a fast bowler from outside of Asia. If anyone in this English attack can stand up to India in India, it’s got to be this Lancashire legend.
The 2012 Test in Kolkata and Anderson’s six-wicket haul in that match – three in each innings – is a video Virat Kohli and his top order will preferably watch with great interest this week. Especially the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar – with a length ball that got the batsman to commit and then, in Tendulkar’s own words, “starts moving away after covering almost three-fourths of the length of the pitch”.
Heartbreaker of a delivery. The genius of Anderson. MS Dhoni remembers him being the difference between the two sides in a rare series India lost at home in the last decade.
Replacing Glenn McGrath at the pinnacle of prolific fast bowlers has to come with serious calibre.
As India look to make the most of the confidence garnered in successfully tackling the Cummins-Starc-Hazlewood trio, this England pace attack – led by Anderson and with Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer to follow – won’t be any less lethal.
Broad pointed out after his three wickets from 26 overs in Galle how the effort, at all times, was to make the batsmen play. England will undoubtedly look to apply the same philosophy when the Tests against India begin.
Except that England will know, Chennai is not Galle and this Indian team, in top gear, is no Sri Lanka. In 2012, England had Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and Samit Patel to keep banking on, as fast bowlers managed to get adequate breaks and kept coming back fresh. Relatively unaccomplished in spin, that’s a cushion the visitors won’t have this time.
Anderson, Broad and Archer – the latter most likely to get his first red-ball opportunity in the sub-continent, purely for the pace he manages to generate – will have to put in the hard yards in India.