There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when James Anderson will eventually decide he's simply bowled too many overs, put his hamstrings through too much, spent too many days on the road, and hang his boots up.
Till that day arrives, though, watching England play Tests will be a delight.
Master of swing
Anderson has mastered one of the hardest skills in the game — swinging the cricket ball — and he performs it with such nonchalance and ease that he risks being taken for granted.
At Lord's he was at his best, turning India's batsmen inside out, setting them up expertly, finishing with nine for 43. The overcast conditions, his knowledge of the ground and his general ability made for a deadly cocktail.
“When the ball is swinging, as it was in the first innings, then Pavilion End for me, swinging it up the slope. I feel more in the game,” he said. “Then when the ball gets old, the far (Nursery) end, using that slope to try and move the ball away from the right-hander.”
Sometimes, there is no shame in being overcome by an opponent that good: Anderson was not boasting when he said, on the second day, that England would have dismissed cheaply any team in the world in those conditions.
His dismissal of Vijay in the second innings brought Anderson his 100th Test wicket at Lord's. He now has 553 Test wickets, only 10 fewer than Glenn McGrath.
When — and it is likely he will get there before this series ends — he does overtake the Australian, Anderson will become the most successful fast bowler in the history of Test cricket.
Among active bowlers, nobody is within a hundred wickets of him; the closest are Stuart Broad (424) and Dale Steyn (421), neither of whom are very young. When Anderson does retire, it is unlikely another fast bowler will surpass his tally for a long time.
It can be easy to forget that he is 36, although he is quick to remind anybody who may presume he’s older.
“You are around 36-37,” began one question at a press conference last week, only for Anderson to interrupt with: “I'm 36, not 37.”
In the last 10 years, nobody in Test cricket has bowled more overs than Anderson (4145.2) — spinners included — or taken more wickets (449). Broad is third on the list for overs bowled (3,786.2) and it is easy to see why England's coaches may be worried about workload management.
For now, though, Anderson shows no signs of slowing down and it is a testament to his fitness that he has been able to carry on this way.
“I feel like, I won’t say 28, but 32,” he said during the second Test. “I don’t think about numbers or my age. I don’t feel old, I feel like I can still throw myself around in the field as well as anyone else.
“I was delighted with how many overs I bowled at Edgbaston. For my body to get through that at this age, I’m really happy. I think it means I’m doing the right stuff off the field.”
Help from the Indians
At the start of the tour, India may have hoped that five Tests in six weeks would be too much for Anderson's ageing body. But the first Test finished a day early and India lasted all of 82.2 overs in the second, which means that the Lancastrian will be well rested going into the third Test at Trent Bridge.
Then there is a week between that game and the fourth Test at Southampton, by which time the series may well be finished as a contest.
Anderson seems to relish playing against India in England: he has now taken 73 Indian wickets in home conditions; no other nation has suffered as much at his hands. The pain does not look like ending quickly
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