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News Analysis

Trent Bridge to Kolkata: Anderson's six of the best

As James Anderson surpasses Ian Botham to become England's leading Test wicket-taker, ESPNcricinfo picks out six of his best performances

David Hopps
David Hopps
17-Apr-2015
James Anderson sets off after Brad Haddin is given out on review, England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 5th day, July 14, 2013

Trent Bridge 2013: The defining performance of James Anderson's career  •  Getty Images

Anderson had already played 20 Tests by the time England arrived in Wellington, but this was a watershed moment as the dropping of Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison pronounced that England had moved on from their victorious 2005 Ashes attack. Anderson, teaming up with Stuart Broad in only his second Test, took five wickets in the first innings, befuddling Matthew Bell, Jamie How and Mathew Sinclair with natural outswing as New Zealand soon slipped to 31 for 3. Anderson and Broad would be stood together in three straight Ashes triumphs on a journey to the top of the Test rankings.
No Test venue has bestowed favours upon Anderson more enthusiastically than Trent Bridge, a haven for swing bowlers. In eight matches in Nottingham, he has taken 53 wickets at 19.24 apiece and the ground has played host to both his 10-wicket hauls and six of his 16 five-fors. The New Zealanders succumbed to him swiftly. He had six wickets by the close of the second day and responded with a bashful acknowledgment of the crowd and a diffident media conference. A seventh wicket followed before a fleeting hoper of all 10 slipped away.
Trent Bridge again - and one of his most devastating displays in what was to become a shaming Pakistan tour under the captaincy of Salman Butt. Pakistan were hustled out for 182 and 80, their second innings flirting dangerously with their lowest score in Test history. Anderson completed a 354-run win with 6 for 17 in the second innings, curving the ball both ways with consummate skill as he took his first 10-wicket haul and recorded the best match analysis by an England bowler for six years.
Australia has always been a demanding tour for Anderson, who could make the garrulous Duke ball talk at will, but who often found the Kookaburra as taciturn as they come. He has known the pain of two Ashes whitewashes Down Under, but in 2010-11, his 24 wickets made up a resolute contribution to England's series win. By now he was approaching his peak, his artistry backed up by greater resilience and a shrewd tactical brain. If he was at his most challenging on a cloudy first day in Melbourne, where England retained the Ashes, it was in the final Test at the SCG where the Ashes were won and he finally won the respect of the Australian public.
Anderson's Test record in England is markedly superior to that overseas, with as much as 10 runs a wicket difference. There was precious little in his favour at Eden Gardens, apart from supreme skill and will. He had been a bit-part player in Mumbai as Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar paired up for one of the greatest spin-bowling displays in England's history, but in this third Test, he summoned all his knowledge and persistence, drew comfort from occasional hints of reverse swing, and ensured that Alastair Cook's side moved closer to a first series win in India for 27 years. Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli were among his first-innings victims.
Surely the defining Test of Anderson's career and, appropriately, in Nottingham. Who can forget Trent Bridge 2013? This was one of the greatest Tests of modern times: Ashton Agar's 98 as a 19-year-old debutant; the first of Ian Bell's third hundreds in the series as he put the back-cut back in vogue again; and Broad's brazen choice to stand his ground after an edge had bounced off the keeper's gloves to first slip. Anderson's gruelling 13-over spell before lunch on the final day brought 3 for 29 and put England on the brink of victory but Brad Haddin added 65 with James Pattinson for the last wicket and, as Australia got within 15, Anderson, almost cruelly, was bowling again. Haddin inside-edged to Matt Prior, what umpire Aleem Dar did not spot, DRS uncovered and Anderson briefly forgot his exhaustion to lead a jubilant charge around the outfield.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps