There's a famous photo of an iconic West Indies attack. Lined up in height order, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner stare back at the camera. There's not a smile in sight.

The picture was taken in Trinidad in 1981. West Indies were involved in a Test against England at the time; a Test they won by an innings and 79 runs.

The quartet only played together in 11 Tests. But it's an enduring image that represents the West Indies teams of the era pretty well. Each one of those bowlers had legitimate claim to be qualified as a great of the game; each one of them offered skill, pace, hostility and control. It was an awesome attack. It was an awesome team.

The England quartet of seamers in this Test doesn't quite have the same height or pace or hostility. They might not, in Perth or Johannesburg, offer the same threat at this stage of their careers. Batsmen don't, on the whole, fear for their physical safety when they go out to face them.

But they might well wonder where their next run is going to come from. For in these conditions, under overcast skies and armed with a Dukes ball, this England quartet presents a formidable challenge.

The statistics alone are overwhelming. Reunited once more, James Anderson and Stuart Broad have nearly 1100 Test wickets between them and will be remembered as greats of English cricket. Chris Woakes takes his wickets, at home at least, at a lower cost than either of them, while in his first five Tests in England, Jofra Archer claimed two five wicket hauls and took his wickets at 22.08. There's no respite. Not in these conditions.

The key, according to Broad, is the quartet's control. And it's true that on these surfaces, offering assistance off the seam, that bowling a tight line and length is often enough to create both pressure and chances.

But they have more to offer than control. They also have the ability to swing the ball, utilise the wobble seam - an increasingly common part of England's game over the last couple of years - and work out any technical flaws they may see. They can go short against those, such as Shane Dowrich, who struggle against the rising delivery. They can nip the ball back against those, such as Roston Chase, who walk across their stumps, and they can move the ball away from those, such as Shai Hope, who tend to push at it.

"I can't think of a better attack in these conditions," Nasser Hussain said on Sky. It was hard to disagree.

And while there may be moments, as the ball softens and the shine wears, when batting becomes more straightforward, Archer's ability to generate lift from even slow surfaces offers an extra edge. John Campbell was caught off the splice by a brute of a delivery that punished his prevalence to prop forward.

Any absence of pace or weakness of spin is negated in such conditions. It was a reminder why England have not lost at home to anyone since 2014 and to West Indies since 1988.

"For this pitch, it's a very, very strong attack," Broad said. "What you want to try and avoid is four seamers that all do exactly the same thing because if you don't get a pitch that suits you, you could be in trouble.

When one of us goes, the other will be one of the first to know. There's certainly been no talk of that. Jimmy's record is arguably getting better and better, as is mine
Stuart Broad on his partnership with James Anderson

"We all are slightly different bowlers. We all release from slightly different places on the crease which means that every time a different bowler comes on, a batsman has to make little adjustments

"We have a saying in this bowling unit. Control the run rate; control the game. Every bowler on that pitch has got the ability to control the run rate and is a natural wicket-taker."

England have had other decent attacks in recent times, of course. They went to No. 1 in the Test rankings in 2011 with a three-man seam attack, which saw Broad and Anderson supported by, at various times, the likes of Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett.

But it was a policy that demanded an awful lot of those bowlers and was held together by the skill of the spinner, Graeme Swann. Eventually, Swann and Bresnan suffered elbow injuries and England had to find another way. The presence of four seamers here - plus Dom Bess' spin and the possibility of a contribution from Ben Stokes later in the game - means the bowlers have been able to operate in shorter spells and allows for the possibility of enforcing the follow-on should the opportunity present itself.

The best comparison for the current unit might, in England terms, be the 2005 Ashes line-up. At their best, the quartet of Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Simon Jones and Andrew Flintoff had just as much pace, hostility, control and skill. They had a better spin option, too. They played together 16 times, won 10 and lost only twice.

How many more times will Anderson and Broad operate together? Not too many, probably. Broad has responded to his omission from the team which played in the first Test of this series wonderfully eloquently. As he asked after play here: "Do you think we're both in England's best bowling attack?"

The answer, in these conditions, is almost certainly yes. But it remains the case that, in India or Australia, or South Africa or the Caribbean, it could be hard to accommodate them. The extra pace of Mark Wood or Olly Stone may well, in some conditions, prove more effective.

We're probably in that transition phase between eras now. This was, after all, just the fourth time the pair had played together in England's most recent 14 Tests. The mantle is passing to Archer, in particular, with Woakes, who Broad believes is bowling better than ever, helping bridge the gap. Given the need for rest and rotation in this summer's packed schedule, it probably wouldn't be reasonable to expect Anderson and Broad to feature in more than two of the three Tests against Pakistan. And then? Who knows. They've proved it unwise to write them off, but time is an unrelenting opponent. It tends to win in the end.

"I don't ever walk on the field and think 'Is this is the last time we'll play together?'" Broad said. "Both of us have a burning desire to keep going and keep trying to win Tests for England

"When one of us goes, the other will be one of the first to know. There's certainly been no talk of that. Jimmy's record is arguably getting better and better. As is mine."

Maybe, in time, pictures of Anderson and Broad together will resonate for England supporters in a similar way to that magnificent Caribbean quartet. They are a formidable pairing. This is a formidable quartet. Enjoy them while you can.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo