Jimmy Anderson, majestic island of chuntering irritation and sadness

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Jimmy Anderson has played 179 Test matches and he was completely pissed off to lose this one by a single run. Jimmy Anderson is a quite majestically irritable cricketer.

The penultimate ball of the second Test between New Zealand and England could, and probably technically should, have been called a wide. Nobody at the Basin Reserve in Wellington really wanted the scores to move level with an extra though. Nobody except Jimmy Anderson anyway.

Next ball Anderson was out and honestly, sport’s whole meaning and impact is built on someone involving having and displaying this level of pissed-offedness.

We were struck by a particular moment just after the wicket had been confirmed when the camera focused on a frozen Anderson as the humanity surrounding him ricocheted around in glee.

The players are converging noisily. Fans are literally dancing with joy.

But someone has pressed pause on Jimmy.

The sort of whirling dervish backdrop highlighted this really well, but the contrasts continued.

Here’s Tom Blundell, who took the catch.

Here’s Jimmy.

Here’s The Great Neil Wagner, who bowled the delivery (as well as the previous one).

Even Kane Williamson slipped into not merely having, but actively displaying an emotion, which is not a thing he’s usually very big on.

And here’s Jimmy.

As Anderson repeatedly took the short steps back and forth between sadness and irritation, bedlam and buoyancy swirled around him.

Neil Wagner is most definitely experiencing emotions in this shot and he is not alone.

Even Ben Stokes was at it.

Here’s England’s captain, sauntering onto the pitch at the earliest opportunity, already in “in’t Test cricket brilliant!” mode.

But that’s not the correct way to behave. Grinning at losing a match by a single run because it was brilliant Test cricket actually chips away at the brilliance a little bit.

Sport doesn’t need everyone pulling in the same direction for the same result. It needs conflict. It needs people who want different things pulling in opposite directions. That’s what makes it magical and powerful.

Everyone knows Stokes was pulling in the opposite direction to New Zealand, but smiling immediately at a loss raises a faint shadow of ‘could he maybe have pulled slightly harder?’ Even if that isn’t true, inadvertently raising the question still diminishes things, even if just a smidge.

What you really need in the immediate aftermath of defeat is a goddamn superhero, chuntering away about how the previous delivery should have been given as a wide before descending back into melancholy.

Chuntering to the umpire? Chuntering to his batting partner? Chuntering to himself? To the void?

It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that at the age of 40, with 179 Test matches to his name, Jimmy Anderson was completely pissed off to lose this one by a single run.

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  1. Stokes’ reaction would probably be different if England had lost this series because of the result, or if this was the Ashes. Kohli would have flipped a table or two (not just metaphorically either) with a result like this.

    1. to be honest flipping a table is a better reaction than laughing it off. it looked annoying to me. maybe he could’ve tried harder was my initial thought.

  2. It seems to be universal opinion that closer Test matches are very exciting, and that because this match came down to a single run, it was super-exciting.

    Well, I’ve got a proposal that will revolutionise Test cricket. Decimalise runs. You can keep your 22 yards but it’s time that cricket moved on to the metric system. One New Run shall be worth One Hundred Old Runs. Old Runs shall henceforth be known as centiruns.

    Margins of victory will become ever tighter. Had this match been played under the new system, it would have been won by merely 0.01 runs. And only a handful of batters will have scored a Whole Run in this match – but to score a Whole Run is a big achievement. Achieving an average in excess of a Half Run is a remarkable achievement over a career. Meanwhile, bowlers’ averages and economy figures will be much lower, reflecting the immense effort that they have to put in to the match. I mean compared to batters, who have it relatively easy barring the odd projectile aimed at their head or body at speeds above 90 mph, don’t bowlers deserve a break? Neil Wagner certainly does, and Ben Stokes clearly needs one.

    I’m told that in One-Day and T20 cricket, actually it isn’t margins of victory but rather strike rates and Runs Per Over that make a match exciting – so a new system that suppresses this may not be welcome. But that’s fine, because I’ve got a brilliant idea for the New Limited Overs Run …

  3. Have I ever previously mentioned that I consider the phrase “two match series” to be oxymoronic.

    Do stop me if I am boring you.

    I get one-off test matches. I get three match series. But…

  4. By all means talk about how great it was later on, but I do expect players to be like Jimmy when they’ve just lost. Can’t imagine someone like Usain Bolt being completely thrilled with silver in a race where he and the winner both beat the old world record.

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