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James Anderson

James Anderson
When a fly-by-night hack journalist wrote and published a biography of me against my wishes, he then had the gall to add “enigma” to the title. I have never read a word of the thing, yet my family tell me it is not all that bad.
So now, after calling for the head of James Anderson recently, it would be graceless not to concede, after his 11 wickets at Trent Bridge, that he is not all that bad – or, perhaps, an enigma.
In mitigation for my previous strictures, I was already prepared to change my mind about him after only a few balls against this poor Pakistan batting side. What made me sit up was a new angle of attack when he went round the wicket and still managed to swing the ball away from the left- handers. Previously, from over the wicket, the ball was never threatening the stumps, moving so far across the line that Prior was taking the ball in front of first slip. The difference is like chalk and cheese. From round, the ball starts on the line of the stumps and gets the batsman playing rather than waving it goodbye.
We must nevertheless put this bowling performance into some sort of context. The techniques of the young Pakistanis are virtually non-existent. The Captain excepted, the best looking players were the fast bowler Gul in the first innings and the night-watchman in the second. Remember that this motley crew were six wickets down for about 50 runs, not once but twice in the match. I am not so hot on my cricket records but that must be virtually unprecedented.
I took some comfort in my critical stance when Anderson was “rested” in a match prior to the Test despite having bowled no great number of overs in the summer. Then Henry Blofeld chipped in with a simple observation i.e. ”we all know he can bowl a bit when if swings – but what happens when it does not?”. There remains the “extreme” seam position whether swinging it either in or out which means no movement off the pitch when the “swing” element is missing.
Now let's list the positives. Anderson is not injury prone. He is a superb close catcher – standing at slip to Swann. He is hard to shift as a batsman when called upon to guts it out at the end of an innings. He has now shown that he is prepared to experiment with his bowling and with growing confidence and experience he may yet reach further heights.
Thinking further forward to Australia he will have the Kookaburra ball to master, though the flatter seam will not worry him as much as it may Broad and Fine. All the Test matches are played within hailing distance of the ocean and there are certainly “swingy” days down-under to look forward to.
So, in his present form, Anderson represents a more than useful member of the team, the spearhead of a three man fast bowling attack and I am taking mental note to get off his back, whatever happens in the next three Tests against Pakistan.