India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 1st day

Anderson rewarded in year of toil

No fast bowler has sent down more overs than James Anderson in 2012 and in Kolkata at the start of the third Test he got the rewards his efforts deserved.

George Dobell

December 5, 2012

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

This has not been the best of years for England. Defeated in seven Tests, they have lost their No.1 ranking, their proud home record and suffered a damaging dressing room fall-out. The careers of players who seemed destined for sustained success have stalled and the seam attack that looked so potent against Australia and India has become jaded.

Yet, through it all, James Anderson has remained a beacon of reliability. He has played on some unforgiving wickets this year and has also suffered far more than his share of dropped catches, but he has carried the burden of leading the attack with unflinching stoicism. Fit, willing and consistent, he has missed only one Test when he was rested, against his will, for the game against West Indies at Edgbaston.

Perhaps, on the flattest of wickets with no help from swing, he now looks tidy rather than threatening, but he showed once again at Eden Gardens that, given any help at all, he remains a fine performer.

Of seam bowlers, only Vernon Philander has taken more Test wickets (43 to Anderson's 41) this year, but no seamer has come anywhere near Anderson's work-rate of 511.4 overs in 2012. Indeed, Anderson has bowled nearly 100 overs more than the next busiest seamer this year. He will wish that fewer overs had been necessary but, in a struggling team, he has been a rock.

He could have been forgiven for a sinking feeling when his captain, Alastair Cook, once again lost an important toss - it is the fifth time in his five Tests as captain that he has lost the toss - and he was sentenced to another day in the field with the pitch at its best. In a two-man seam attack, his team needed him more than ever.

He responded with a magnificent performance. Forget the statistics - 3 for 68 does him little justice - this was as good as display of bowling as Anderson has produced since the Ashes. On a slow, low surface, he found swing, both conventional and reverse, a little movement off the seam and, at times, bowled with more pace than the disappointing Steven Finn. Five of the 12 fours he conceded went behind square on the off side and was unfortunate not to have won an lbw decision against Yuvraj Singh before he had scored.

The difference in Kolkata, Anderson reasoned, was simply that the ball moved. "The new ball swung in this game which hasn't done in the last two games," Anderson said. "And I think it will keep going for the whole match. The early start probably helps with all the dew around. This pitch was perfect for reverse swing - it is very abrasive - so I enjoyed it."

This was a polished performance by England. While Finn, rusty and anxious, and Graeme Swann, rumoured to be unwell, could not quite sustain Anderson's pressure, Monty Panesar compensated with 35 tight overs - a remarkable contribution on the first day of a Test - and again shared the second new ball.

England also caught several sharp catches - something they have rarely done of late - and maintained the standards with the ball and in the field even when luck turned against them. Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir and, in particular, Yuvraj all enjoyed some fortune in the early stages of their innings.

James Anderson had Virat Kohli caught at slip, India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 1st day, December 5, 2012
James Anderson celebrates his dismissal of Virat Kohli on a rewarding day at Eden Gardens © BCCI

As several Indian batsmen contributed to their own downfall, only Anderson's victims received excellent deliveries. Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, again tied down by tight bowling (his last 92 balls against England have now generated 32 runs and three dismissals) pushed at good ones on off stump that left them, while R Ashwin was beaten by one that swung back between bat and pad.

Anderson has now dismissed Tendulkar eight times in Test cricket. No-one has done it more.

"I'll probably think about that more when I retire," Anderson said, before adding with a smile "and tell everyone I meet that it happened. That was a crucial wicket for us. It looked like he was set. He was scratchy early on, but when he is set he can be dangerous."

There were few other chances. Ashwin, stuck on his heels when his captain called him for a sharp run, should have been run out had Finn, at mid-on, not missed a simple pick-up and throw, but generally this was as solid a team performance in the field as England have managed this year.

That England were unable to take greater advantage was almost entirely due to the determination of Tendulkar. Watching him at this stage of his career is not unlike watching George Foreman who, aged 45, came out of retirement to reclaim boxing's heavyweight title of the world. The reflexes may have waned, but the experience remains and, crucially, Tendulkar refused to give his wicket away. His young colleagues may not be able to emulate his talent, but they should strive to emulate his desire. It was what set him above them in this innings.

Gambhir described facing Anderson as "very difficult" with the ball "reversing and reversing that big." The key, according to Gambhir, was Anderson's ability to mask the ball with his left hand as he runs in, so the batsman cannot anticipate which way it will swing. "Finn gave a lot of loose deliveries," Gambhir said, "but Anderson bowled well."

Bearing in mind where Anderson learned that skill, however, and England may face some tricky moments of their own later in the match. "On the last tour here, Zaheer Khan did a lot," Anderson said. "That is when I started practising it and it has proved to be a good skill."

"Zaheer is a master of reverse-swing," Gambhir added. "So if he gets going it's going to be very difficult for England. It's an even contest. The wicket has something for everyone."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by VivtheGreatest on (December 6, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

I think some fellow Indians are getting carried away with their own hype. Matt Prior is definitely not a walking wicket- he's one of the better players of spin in their team plus on the evidence so far Compton also seems pretty competent. Anderson may be not a great bowler but give him credit for bowling well yesterday. We have enough and more passengers in our own team without having to mock the English

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

Harsh on Finn George, "dissapointing ?" were u expecting him to run through the order? He is only 23 coupled with how flat of a deck it is..He is a wicket taker but he goes for runs granted..He had a couple of good spells..I hope they keep Stuart out of the side and keep developing Finn..I would say he is the best of the young promising fast bowlers , Cummins, Starc , Pattinson, Yadav,De Lange

Posted by Hammond on (December 6, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

Cpt.Meanster- Anderson will be good enough to wreck a bog average Aussie side next ashes.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (December 6, 2012, 3:11 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster on (December 06 2012, 00:02 AM GMT), a commenter who routinely claims to hate Test cricket and love T20 and then continues to post opinions on Test matches will never get my respect. Anderson's record speaks for itself. He's not the greatest bowler who ever lived but if you really think that he's an average domestic bowler then you simply reveal your lack of knowledge, while if you don't believe that then you just look foolish for posting it.

Posted by subbass on (December 6, 2012, 2:46 GMT)

Oh and re. Anderson 278 wkts @ 30 may not be great but it is very good. He'd walk into the Indian side for sure and probably any side other than the Saffers. We also just need the selectors to stick with Finn as he has over 50 wkts @ 28 with sure signs that he will improve on that. Lets face it, most honest Indian fans will be concerned about their chances of winning this Test and the series. Pretty poor for a one sport nation of 1.2 billion people ! Stil, I'ml not gonna get ahead of myself but I am quietly confident of us at least drawing the series. The only downside in this particular game is us having to bat last, so it's vital we get at least a 75 run lead and bowl well in both the last part of the Injun 1st innings and also the 2nd innings. But for me, England are slight favs from here and all the pressure is on India which is another advantage. They have already lost the chance of proper 'revenge' as they can't give us back the 4-0 hammering they got on our 'greentops' lmao !!

Posted by subbass on (December 6, 2012, 2:28 GMT)

@cptmeanster - So Prior is a walking wicket ? Strange how he almost scored a century in the 1st Test then ! Also Compton has shown he is prepared to fight and has put on 50+ and 100+ stands with Cook. Also Trott CAN play spin and is a good player just in poor form likewise Bell. I'm not sure this pitch is a minefield either. If India get bowled out for less than 315 then I'd rightly expect England to be in a good position. But yes fair point if Cook AND KP go cheaply then I will be nervous about us getting a lead. The good thing though is that so long as Dhoni doesn't blitz 60+ runs there is very little batting left. So overall if we restrict the Inuns to under 315 we will be favs imo. Was interesting to hear Dravid say that the best day to bat is on day 2, so from an England perspective it is vital we don't let the last 3 wkts put on 100-125. I would be surprised if that happened though as we will have fresh bowlers and pretty much a new ball today. Come on ENGLAND !

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 6, 2012, 0:02 GMT)

An AVERAGE county trundler will NEVER get my respects. I don't care how good this guy has bowled but he's a one off, 'once in a blue moon' bowler. ONLY Finn gets my thumbs up among the England quicks.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 6, 2012, 0:01 GMT)

@phoenixsteve: I still DO NOT think England are in a winning position. This pitch is NOT Mumbai. I expect the Indian bowling to dismantle the England batting within 300 on this surface. Barring Cook and KP, the rest are walking wickets. If India can get rid of Cook and KP cheaply, the rest will collapse quicker than a house of cards. COME ON INDIA !!!

Posted by big_al_81 on (December 5, 2012, 23:45 GMT)

@ bestbuddy - I think you'll find that Philander has taken 16 wickets at 30 in his last 5 tests overseas against respectable opposition (England not playing very well, and Australia playing above their current ability). I don't think there has been a better fast bowler in the world than Steyn for several years, but Philander is unproven after 12 tests (51 wkts in his first 7 then 16 in the next 5 makes that clear) and is certainly no better than Jimmy Anderson. Perhaps some more respect is due. And a bit more thought, as liz1558 has pointed out, about where these players have bowled their overs.

Posted by Chickenwire on (December 5, 2012, 22:20 GMT)

In a quick response to SevereCritic I agree, but want to add that occasionally a 'remodelled' action can have devastating results - the Troy Cooley re-modelled Anderson was nowhere near as effective (and was not at all popular with Duncan Fletcher) as the tyro Anderson; nor the vintage Anderson who'd returned to his previous natural action. Much as Cooley had some excellent results i/c England's bowling attack in 2005, there were as many errors and problems caused in my opinion. Wonder if the injury problems in the Australian bowling line-up have their roots in Cooley's tenure as bowling coach down under?

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (December 5, 2012, 22:11 GMT)

Jimmy is nothing more than a county trundler. Can only get wickets when the ball is swinging. Even club cricketers smack Jimmy all over the ground when the ball is not swinging and he bowls at military medium. My grandma can bowl faster than that! /end sarcasm

Posted by PGSGimson on (December 5, 2012, 21:53 GMT)

@Saikrishnan Baskaran what home record have Aus got to be proud of? They just lost to SA and lost to Eng last time they were there

Posted by cloudmess on (December 5, 2012, 21:24 GMT)

Saikrishnan Baskaran: In the past 10 years (since start of 2002), England have lost 3 home series (out of 22), so yes I'd say that's a home record to be fairly proud of.

Posted by liz1558 on (December 5, 2012, 20:53 GMT)

@ bestbuddy - what every banana-brain critic should bear in mind is that Anderson has played 8 of his Tests this year so far in UAE, Sri Lanka and India. This makes a big difference in the wickets column for a fast bowler.

Posted by Renno on (December 5, 2012, 19:51 GMT)

@Saikrishnan Baskaran

No axe to grind for any team, but George Dobell is completely correct in his assertion regarding England's recent home record.

In the last 10 years England have won 60% of Tests (Aus 68%, SA 55%, Ind 47%, Pak 47% and SL 45%)

In the last five years, England's home record is the best - 57%. (Aus 55%, Ind 53%, SA 50%, SL 38%)

Posted by FR3AKX on (December 5, 2012, 19:42 GMT)

Jimmy bowled in the right places consistently and also extracted a good amount of reverse swing on offer as the pitch wears down it's going to be a lot tougher and Eng should hope to put a big first innings lead if they have any chance in this test as the fourth innings on this Kolkata pitch has always been a nightmare with spinners getting good purchase as the wicket wears down from day 3 onwards and the fast bowlers will still get reverse swing going so there's a lot to ponder for the England batsmen tomorrow. Zaheer and Ishant both will get the ball to reverse after 30 odd overs so it's going to be interesting to see Dhoni's tactics in the first 30 - will he attack or as usual defend and wait till the ball reverses (inturn let Eng batsmen play themselves in)?? This test will definitely be a lot closer than the last 2 and result is guranteed so is the excitement!!

Posted by gsingh7 on (December 5, 2012, 19:33 GMT)

county trundler, how people can forget sehwag thrashing of jimmy in first match, much to follow in 2 nd innings

Posted by SAboucher on (December 5, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

""""their No.1 ranking, their proud home record and suffered a damaging dressing room fall-out""""..just a dressing room fall out???? that defines ur team as being too dependant on KP..too sheepish geogy!!!!..none would concur this..dobell buddy never that good a side u were!!!...India and Auss,when u beat them are hollow men..till now!!!!could change in future though...

Posted by Nampally on (December 5, 2012, 19:18 GMT)

George, the wicket is not the "Flatest" as you describe. It is a sporting wicket with help for all bowlers who are bowling accurately & at the right spots. Eden Garden has always been a helpful wicket for both seamers & spinners. I am glad Dhoni did not blunder in the team selection by including Harbhajan in XI. Ishant before his ankle injury was a good seamer at around 135 to 140 KPH. ZAK is excellent reverse swinger & Gambhir is right when he says ZAK will do well in these conditions. Yes, Indian batting failed badly. But Sehwag's Run out was the turning point of the match. He could have put India well over 350 if he stayed there for 2 sessions- he looked a Centurian. Yes Anderson bowled well & he got his prize booty in an increasingly confident SRT. Kohli & Pujara failed which resulted in this modest Indian total. The pitch is a sporting one & good bowlers have as good a chance to do well as good batsmen. If India can get the top 4 England wkts. cheaply, it is still wide open game

Posted by shillingsworth on (December 5, 2012, 19:09 GMT)

@Saikrishnan Baskaran - So England's home record is inferior to India's. It's still pretty good - why shouldn't they be proud of it? Last time I checked, England haven't lost to Australia at home since 2001. By my reckoning that is more than a decade.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 18:16 GMT)

England having a proud home record? Really? The last time I checked, England lost home series to India, Australia in the past decade and Tests to Pakistan, SriLanka, South Africa. The only teams who can be proud of their home record are India, Australia and to an extent Sri Lanka.

Posted by phoenixsteve on (December 5, 2012, 17:14 GMT)

A very professional display from England who are showing some fight and character. Losing a third toss could've been very disheartening on this tyoical Indian flat track but England have knuckled down. Poor LBW decisions remain part of the game without DRS and hopefully that'll change in the near future? Hopefully England can finish the job quickly tomorrow and then set about this lacklustre Indian bowling. Another KP & Cook masterclass would be nice - but maybe there are others willing to star? So far so good but this is test cricket and one bad session can ruin 3 days of excellent work. I'm hopeful for another victory..... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by bestbuddy on (December 5, 2012, 17:07 GMT)

A backhanded complement this - he's done well to avoid the injuries that guys like cummins and pattinson have had, and its a testament to his focus and strength - but at the same time if steyn and philander had bowled as many balls they would be 10 and 30 wickets ahead of anderson respectively this year. Lots of overs bowled, not the greatest year in terms of its return

Posted by Rahulbose on (December 5, 2012, 17:01 GMT)

It always reverse swings in Kolkata in the last session of the day, people just keep forgetting it. So not sure if this spell from Anderson was such a break through moment.

Posted by SevereCritic on (December 5, 2012, 16:47 GMT)

People like Anderson and Steyn restores faith in fast bowling. Solid action means fewer chances of injury. IMO, pacers who are injury prone often have imperfect actions.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 5, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

It's difficult to be tough on Finn. He's undercooked ( & needed another match in his legs before this one, but that wasn't possible. Once he hits his straps, possibly in the 2nd inns, he will present more of a threat. Even so, he bowled better & more economically than Broad did in Mumbai: selection justified. Jimmy was inspirational today & showed what a fine bowler he is, given just a smidgin of assistance. Now he's got a clutch of wks under his belt, his confidence will be on the rise. Will Zaheer be able to match his skill & accuracy? That may have a significant bearing on the outcome of the match. Can we take it that Swann was a little under the weather? His comparative lack of chirruping would suggest so. Overall, I'd give England 7.5/10 for day one & a meagre 4.5 /10 for India.

Posted by palfreyman on (December 5, 2012, 16:23 GMT)

Nice writing sir. Good to see Teh Jimmeh getting acknowledged for being the rock he is (except with regard to the dressing-room caucus/KP thing).


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