James Anderson: a career-best six-wicket haul© Getty Images|
James Anderson produced his best Test figures with both bat and ball, and Stuart Broad recorded his maiden Test half-century, as England seized control of the third Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge with a day of unstinting dominance. By the time bad light had brought a premature end to the day, the Kiwis were floundering on 96 for 6 in reply to England's 364, and their deficit of 268 seemed insurmountable in the face of Anderson's hostile and high quality swing-bowling assault.
Throughout his international career, Anderson has been like the girl with the curl from the children's nursery rhyme - at times in this series, his performances have been horrid, but today, he was back to being very, very good indeed. He located a full, fast and outswinging length from the very first over of his spell, and in claiming all six of the New Zealand wickets to fall, he finished the day with half an eye on history. Only two players - Jim Laker and Anil Kumble - have managed ten in an innings, but if Anderson can replicate the same form he showed today, his opponents - and team-mates - may not have much say in the matter.
Ultimately, Anderson is a mood bowler, and there's nothing quite like an early wicket to set his juices pumping. With his third ball of the day, he turned Aaron Redmond inside out with a wickedly jagging outswinger that detonated his off stump, and New Zealand's foreboding was tangible. Out strode their kingpin, Brendon McCullum - relieved of the gloves and promoted to No. 3 - but his talents were wasted in such hostile conditions. He had made only 9 when Anderson flattened his stumps with a carbon copy of the Redmond delivery, and at 14 for 2, the innings was in freefall.
Ross Taylor counterattacked with the sort of confident recklessness that befits a man with two 150s to his name on this tour, and together with the low-key Jamie How, he guided New Zealand to tea at 57 for 2. But after the break, and armed with a changed and fractionally shinier ball, Anderson picked up where he had left off. Taylor squirted a fat edge to gully and departed for 21, and three balls later the hapless Daniel Flynn - whom Anderson maimed with that tooth-shattering bouncer at Old Trafford - was pinned on the crease and sent on his way for a duck.
At 62 for 4, How was New Zealand's last obdurate presence, but he was the next to go, and in a disappointing fashion. He hung a limp bat outside off stump, and Anderson's natural outswing curved perfectly off the edge and carried through low to Tim Ambrose behind the stumps. Then, only five balls before the umpires offered the light, Jacob Oram followed in similar fashion for 7. At 96 for 6, with only Daniel Vettori of the recognised batsmen remaining, the hopes of New Zealand snatching a share of the series had receded over the horizon.
It was quite a contrast to the Kiwis' mood on the first day, when England slumped to 86 for 5 after lunch, but since then they have been subjugated by a succession of impressive performances. And though Anderson stole the limelight with his bowling, his first role of the day came with the bat, as he and Broad compiled an improbable and important eighth-wicket stand of 76. When New Zealand took the field under slate-grey skies, with England evenly poised on their overnight 273 for 7, they doubtless envisaged a swift denouement. Instead they were made to toil lucklessly and with mounting frustration.
For Broad, it was yet another demonstration of his rich promise as an allrounder. Since his batting breakthrough in partnership with Kevin Pietersen at Napier in March, he has reached at least 25 in each of his last five innings, and his shot selection and patience has borne all the hallmarks of a pedigree cricketer. It was especially appropriate that his best innings to date should come at his new county home of Trent Bridge, where his father Chris made his name as a batsman in the mid-1980s.
His poise and balance at the crease was exemplary, and any international cricketer would be proud of his back-foot driving, which earned him three more boundaries in the morning session. He did require one massive, and tone-setting, moment of good fortune in the third over of the day when, on 21, he edged Chris Martin firmly to second slip, only for McCullum - unaccustomed to the angles at second slip - to fumble the opportunity.
After that, Broad's performance was plain-sailing, until he reached the threshold of his half-century. On 49, he was made to sweat as Vettori and Oram pinned him down for 25 balls either side of lunch. But crucially, Broad refused to succumb to a rash slog, and sure enough the loose delivery eventually arrived. Vettori strayed onto his pads, and Broad flicked him away through midwicket for a hugely cathartic boundary.
Anderson's own career-best was scarcely less impressive, and his disappointment was clear when he finally feathered a nick to the keeper off Oram to give New Zealand their only breakthrough of the morning session. Up until that point he had produced some shots that belied his lowly reputation, including a crunching cover-drive and a confident slog sweep in consecutive overs from Iain O'Brien and Vettori. But his true role was still to come, and by the time his day's work was done, New Zealand's stout resistance in this series had been all but broken.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo