James Anderson: Days like this don’t come around very often

Anderson said the way England played against India on Day One at Headingley was exactly how his team has wanted to play in this series. 

Anderson started India’s rot, dismissing three of India’s top-order batsmen cheaply, before the other seamers set upon the middle and the lower order.   -  AP

James Anderson lauded England’s bowlers and its opening batsmen for their excellence on the first day of the third Test against India at Headingley. Choosing to bat first, India was bowled out for 78 in 40.4 overs, and by the end of the day’s play, England was already ahead by 42 with all 10 wickets intact.

Anderson started India’s rot, dismissing three of India’s top-order batsmen cheaply (K. L. Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Virat Kohli), before the other seamers set upon the middle and the lower order, which crumbled without much resistance. Anderson’s figures at the end of the innings were: 8-5-6-3.

“I thought the way all the bowlers just stuck to the wicket, with the lengths that we bowled, the lines that we bowled, I thought was brilliant. It’s something that we’ve been talking about, trying to bowl. As a unit, as a group, we just absolutely nailed it today,” Anderson said at a virtual press conference at the end of the day’s play.

“It doesn’t get much better than that, I don’t think. Losing the toss, being asked to bowl, and then putting in a performance like that, I think, it doesn’t get much better. The way the two guys played at the end of the day with the bat was outstanding. Exactly what we’ve been talking about and asking for with the ball and the bat we’ve displayed exactly what we wanted to do throughout this series today,” he said.

His figures may not have glittered as much had he bowled after lunch, admitted Anderson.

“[Looking at my figures, it] just feels how good a day we’ve had. I’d have taken it this morning for sure. I think Joe wanted me to bowl after lunch which might have scuppered those figures but I managed to talk him into bowling Craig [Overton] from that end for a few more overs which worked out for us. Just have to make the most of it while it lasts. These days don’t come around very often, so got to be happy when we do,” Anderson said.

Special wicket 

Kohli’s wicket was obviously special, pointed out Anderson.

“We’ve had some great battles over the years. He’s a fantastic player. And someone you want to keep quiet as a team, especially in a five-match series, if he gets going, then he could be very destructive. But I think the way we bowled in the entire series has been very, very good. We must try and keep him quiet as much as we can. If he gets going, it could be a long series for us,” Anderson said.

The day was reminiscent of England’s performance against Australia on Day One in Melbourne in December, 2010. Australia was bowled out for 98 as England went on to inflict an innings win. Anderson, who took five wickets in that Test, is the only member of that England team playing this Test match, against India.

Asked whether the two Tests could be compared, he said, “The only difference from Melbourne is I was keen to bowl there, I wasn’t today for some reason. I was trying to tempt Joe [Root] to bat. But I think he was leaning towards having a bowl. It was taken out of our hands, we were asked to bowl. We didn’t know how the wicket was going to play, it was looking pretty good. It was probably a little bit quicker than we expected, and a little bit of swing early on as well which helps.”

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Lauding openers Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns, who put on 120 runs for the first wicket in an (as yet) unbroken partnership, he said, “When you bowl someone out for less than a 100, you’re not quite sure whether you’ve bowled well or the wicket’s actually not as good you think it might be. So to see both sides bat on it and see the way both of them went about their business today, just felt so calm. The dressing room felt really calm. Just so measured about the way they went about it. They were solid in defence, they left well, and they put away the bad ball when they got one. It was brilliant Test match batting.”

Anderson was happy for Hameed, who scored the third half-century of his Test career, and his first 2016. He said Hameed showed that he has the temperament to excel in Test cricket.

“Since he’s come back into the setup, you can see how much he’s worked on his game, how much he’s improved as a player. I think one thing he’s always had is the right temperament for Test cricket, for international cricket. We saw that today in bucketloads. He was calm, he was measured. He had a game plan which he executed brilliantly. So to see him play that way is something we’re not surprised by because the way he’s played for Notts, the last couple of seasons, the way he’s played when he’s around this group, in the last few months, it’s been absolutely outstanding. So everyone’s absolutely delighted for him,” Anderson said.

Ignoring outside ‘noise’ 

Anderson revealed England had planned to focus on itself only after briefly being distracted by sledging and mind games during the Lord’s Test.

“There was a bit of chat about that [among our team-mates], yeah. We were just making a point of focusing on us and what we do well. I think the first three or four days at Lord’s, I thought we played brilliantly. We didn’t get involved in too much discussion. Maybe until Day Three. And then, after that, at times, it did affect us a little bit. We’re individuals, at the end of it. We have made a conscious effort to try and focus only on us, what we do well: try and ignore everything else, the outside noise, or whatever that might be, going on.”

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