If England’s 2020 Test summer is remembered for anything, it will not be for the return of BBC highlights, Ben Stokes doing absolutely everything against the West Indies or the bizarre sights and sounds of matches played without crowds. No, if England’s 2020 Test summer is remembered for anything it will be for when Stuart Broad dropped an absolute dolly off Jimmy Anderson and then ran the batsman out.
There was an awful lot going on here. An awful, awful lot.
Let’s set the scene
Jimmy Anderson was on four wickets for the innings and 597 Test wickets overall when suddenly his team-mates started dropping every single chance he created.
First Rory Burns managed to make this not be a catch.
Instead of being a wicket, the ball went for four.
Wholly unfazed, Anderson promptly created another chance later the same over.
Sadly, Zak Crawley was for some reason unable to suction the ball to his kneecap and the chance again went down.
Jimmy has seen some pretty incredible drops off his bowling before now and he is famously phlegmatic about this kind of thing.
Here is a lovely shot of Crawley looking up to see Jimmy midway through an ABSOLUTE MASTERCLASS of shrugging off minor frustrations and not letting your emotions show.
Enthusiasm undimmed, Jimmy created yet another chance in his very next over.
This one, it has to be said, was an absolute piece of piss.
Enter Stuart Broad
The ball gently lobbed to Broad at mid-on at almost precisely the same speed and parabola that the ball travels to him about 90 times a day before he’s about to run in and bowl.
If there was any catch you’d expect Stuart Broad to take, it was this one.
Broad’s innate predisposition towards making any situation weirder and more remarkable led him to skip into the air and cross his legs in a kind of Riverdance move while trying to catch the ball with his wrists.
Needless to say, Stuart Broad did not take the catch.
So at this moment Anderson has seen three drops off his bowling inside two overs. This is, by any stretch, ‘quite annoying’.
Compounding this is the nature of the previous wicket to fall.
This is Jos Buttler successfully taking a catch to secure that wicket off the bowling of Broad.
What we can take from this is that catching was not impossible. It seems that catches – indeed quite remarkable catches – could in fact be taken by England fielders. It was just that they for some reason couldn’t be taken off the bowling of James Anderson.
What happened next was the best bit though. After failing to take the catch, Broad did two very wonderful things in quick succession.
Firstly, while still in the process of not catching, he did this kind of frustrated/exasperated hand gesture at the ball, as if it was the ball’s fault.
Then after that, he ran after the ball, picked it up and furiously knocked out middle stump.
Mohammad Abbas was run out by about a zillion miles.
What’s so especially magnificently brilliant about this is that everyone sort of has to pretend like, okay, Broad made amends for the terrible drop because the team still got a wicket and they didn’t concede any runs, so basically it all balances out.
But it doesn’t balance out, does it? Set aside the fact that a different batsman is out – a tail-ender and not a guy on a hundred-and-oldd – if the scorecard ends up the same for the team, Jimmy Anderson’s bowling figures look very different indeed.
Jimmy should have had 5-55 at this point, but in fact he still had 4-55.
And it’s not only that. The sheer volume of chances he was creating, Jimmy could quite legitimately have considered this not merely a wicket he failed to get, but a wicket actively stolen from him.
He surely would have picked up Pakistan’s final two wickets before too long. But now there was only one wicket left for him to get.
So technically the team’s done well out of this delivery and you’re supposed to be playing for the team, but… come on…
This is how Jimmy celebrated the run-out.
One of the all-time great wicket celebrations, we’re sure you’ll agree.
But it’s not just Jimmy. Think about how everyone else was feeling.
Broad’s embarrassed and ashamed and guilty, but also very, very pleased with himself for the run-out. That’s a lot to be grappling with simultaneously.
The rest of the team are also in a weird position. They’re doing well, they’re winning the match – yet the man who’s been doing far more than anyone else to put them in that position is basically enraged with all of them because they’re being completely incompetent. What kind of emotion is that? Sheepish elation?
Inevitably, Jimmy took the final wicket.
Here is how he looked at his team-mates after Dom Sibley caught the ball in the slips.
We didn’t know there could be a look that said, “Seriously? About fucking time.” But then we saw this and it turns out there is such a look and it isn’t even remotely vague or hard to interpret.
Has anyone ever been more pissed off about taking five wickets in an innings?
Magnificent stuff. Well done everyone.
Sign up for our email to have this kind of vital “analysis” sent directly to your inbox.