New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington March 12, 2013

Full circle for Anderson and Broad

In 2008, after an embarrassing defeat in Hamilton, the bowling attack that would lift England to the top of the rankings began to take shape in Wellington

Wellington has played an important part in the current shape of English cricket. It was here, back in 2008, that half of a bowling attack that would take them to the top of world came together out of the debris of defeat.

A few days earlier, England had collapsed embarrassingly for 110 on the final day in Hamilton to hand the opening Test of the series to New Zealand. However, it was not the batsmen who paid for their mistakes. Instead, Michael Vaughan and Peter Moores took the axe to England's fast-bowling attack.

Out went Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison who, at the time, had 460 Test wickets between them. Harmison would play sporadically again, until finally being pensioned off after the 2009 Ashes, but for Hoggard this was the end. He flirted with the squad the following summer, but injury and loss of form meant no way back.

In their place came James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Already the pair was at different stages of their careers - Anderson had been around since 2003, Broad had only made his debut in the previous tour in Sri Lanka, sending down 36 overs in stifling conditions - and it was the first time they had been put together. The partnership would go on to endure, barring the occasional injury, rotation or form slump, for much of the next five years.

"It was big for me because I'd been so loyal to two players who'd been great for me as a captain, but you get a gut feel that it's the right time," Vaughan said earlier this year. "Broad and Anderson were ready and they were desperate to play, they needed to get into the team and we needed a new zest of energy, a new level of intensity. The whole team needed a gee-up and it made everyone else in the team think 'it could happen to us'. That was a big moment for the team and they are still playing. Anderson is up there with Steyn as the best."

For Anderson it is possible to pick it as the defining moment of his career. He claimed 5 for 73 in the first innings, after being allowed to play for Auckland the week before, followed by two more in the second, although not before an injury scare when he twisted his ankle playing football after the third day. Before that Test started his bowling average stood at 39.20. It had never been higher, and would not reach that level again.

Anderson has missed just five Tests since then; three of those were due to rotation (two in Bangladesh and one last year against West Indies at Edgbaston), one due to selection (Jamaica, against West Indies, when England were bowled out for 51) and one due to injury (against Sri Lanka, at Lord's, in 2011). He has taken 230 wickets at 28.08 in the 58 Tests since the recall in Wellington.

He was the leading wicket-taker in New Zealand's first innings in Dunedin with 4 for 137 - looking more like his usual self with the second new ball when he removed Hamish Rutherford, Ross Taylor and Dean Brownlie - to move on 292 Test victims. If he can go one better than his 2008 haul on this ground that 300-wicket landmark will be achieved.

For Broad, the Wellington Test was not quite so pivotal in his career - that moment came in 2009 against Australia at The Oval - but it was hugely significant. It was a changing of the guard for English cricket. Vaughan had been highly impressed by Broad since he first came into the England setup, describing him as the "the most intelligent bowler he has worked with."

Broad only took three wickets in the Test, although that included Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming, but there was already the sign of that ability to change the course of an innings, which has been somewhat lost over the last six months. In the second innings, New Zealand were fighting on 69 for 1 when Broad removed Matthew Bell and Fleming in the same over with the type of burst that would become his trademark until his recent problems.

Unlike Anderson, who is firmly entrenched as England's leading pace bowler, Broad's standing has taken a hit of late following his poor second half of the home season in 2012, two wicketless Tests in India and problems with injury. However, there were signs in Dunedin that he was regaining his form and confidence - although the hands-on-hip pose and frustrated kick at the turf were still firmly in evidence.

"His paces were up and again," Andy Flower, the team director, said. "We all ebb and flow a bit in our lives and have good times and tough times. Stuart is working very hard at his all-round game. He's working hard at his batting methods, he has always thrown himself round the field for us and for a tall fast bowler some of the stuff he does in the field for us is incredible. If he runs in with that sort of rhythm and power then I think we're going to see some good things from him."

When Anderson and Broad walked onto the field five years ago they did not really know what direction their careers would take. Now they return as the senior bowlers in England's ranks. Almost as far from home as they could be, they should feel right at home.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Guy on March 14, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    @Lmaotsetung, but that's the point... Anderson has averaged 26 to 28 through the pink of his career. Steyn averages 23 throughout. And if we're cherry picking periods, Steyn averages 21.57 since Flintoff retired. So, basically, there is no comparison. Steyn is in the league of Wasim Akram, whilst Anderson's stats since 2008 are much like Heath Streak's career stats...

  • Vivian on March 14, 2013, 3:14 GMT

    Steyn, one could say, is blessed with pace and to his credit he has exploited it to the hilt. One cannot think of a better way to put that talent to use. Anderson, on the other hand, has had to slog his way to the mastery he now possesses. He has improved tremendously since being called to lead the English attack.

  • John on March 13, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    @Gagg - since that test in 2008, Jimmy has averaged 28.08. Since Flintoff retired after the 2009 Ashes, Jimmy has an average of 26.36. Fair to say he's had a horrible first 20 tests. Time will tell where he ends up but some people will never give him the credit he deserves.../shrug

  • Garry on March 13, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    cric_J "Not that Jimmy is miles behind Dale", yes, yes he is, they are not even in the same class. The best bowlers average in the low 20's and lower, Excellent bowlers average in mid to late 20's, good bowlers average in the low 30's, Jimmy is a good bowler, Steyn iis one of the best. Hugh difference.

  • shashwata on March 13, 2013, 4:58 GMT

    As much as I would want to believe that Jimmy is as good as Steyn(as mentioned above),I know for some reason that he is not.Not that Jimmy is miles behind Dale but unless something terribly goes wrong in the next 5-6 years (which I don't see happening),Dale will remain the best bowler of this period and Jimmy will be a close second.I reckon in terms of swing and accuracy they are at the same level,but it is Steyn's pace that gives him an edge over Jimmy.Also Jimmy shares the bowl with Broady or Finny who are nowhere close to Morkel and Philander who share it with Steyn.There is no doubt that having a good bowler at the other end does help bowlers to apply pressure on the batsmen and thus get wickets.

  • Simon on March 13, 2013, 2:42 GMT

    @landl47 -- you're right, of course, to step back a touch from Vaughan's claim that Anderson is "right up there" with Steyn. I do feel though that it's a case of: Steyn ... daylight ... Anderson ... more daylight ... and then the rest as far as seam bowlers go. I also have to question Vaughan's assertion that Broad is the most intelligent bowler he'd played with... Precious little evidence of that, to be honest.

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2013, 1:52 GMT

    As much as I like Broad I think he is in danger of losing his place this summer to a returning Tremlet - He is not contributing with the bat enough to justify his no 8 slot and his bowling swings (haha) between unplayable and pedestrian - I wish him well !!

  • Ed on March 12, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    Broad looks too slow and too predictable now. Anderson is still a wonderful bowler. I've been dissapointed with Broad's attitude, and his batting and his bowling. I think tehre are other bowlers who deserve a go now. Anderson I predict will play for quite a few years to come.

  • John on March 12, 2013, 21:29 GMT

    Don't also forget it was Strauss' last chance saloon and the dropping of Matt Prior for that tour. Many things happened on that tour that would make what this team is today...

  • John on March 12, 2013, 13:38 GMT

    Anderson really learned to bowl to his strengths by the age of about 26 and has been an excellent bowler since then (and let me forestall the inevitable comments by saying that Vaughan is wrong and Anderson is not right up there with Steyn. He's an excellent bowler but Steyn is one of the greats).

    Broad is now 26 and it's time for him to make the same leap as Anderson did. Because he's been around so long it's easy to forget that he's still young for a test player. Bird and Henriques, for example, just starting their test careers, are also 26. It's encouraging that Broad is beginning to bowl in the 140s again; if he can forget about the short stuff and bowl a full length he'll be a very dangerous bowler. He's shown in the past that he is capable of doing it, so it's the mental side he has to get right.

    If he does, with Finn getting better all the time and Anderson still at his peak, England will have a very handy seam attack.

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