The impossible James Anderson

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< 1 minute read
Photo by Sarah Ansell
Photo by Sarah Ansell

People often say of a spell that a bowler ‘looked like taking a wicket every ball’. It’s rhetoric. What they mean is that the player in question looked far more likely to take a wicket than you would normally expect.

So let’s word it differently. In his second spell against Sri Lanka at Headingley, every single James Anderson delivery appeared to have at least a 10 per cent chance of taking a wicket. He couldn’t control how the batsman reacted to what he created, but he did everything in his extraordinary power up until that point.

The weather was kind and the ball felt inclined to curve through the air. Anderson of course enjoys this. He translated the arcs of his mind’s eye into reality. First one way, then the other, the ball traced its satisfying bendy lines. As often as not, it pitched in the same spot, but despite that it beat the bat on either side.

What do you do? It was unfathomable for Sri Lanka’s lower order; an impossible task; like trying to kick away an ocean or stare out the sun.

Anderson’s fifth wicket, the tenth of the innings, was a shit one feathered to the keeper down the leg side.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. Could you successfully stare out the sun if you started partway through a total eclipse?

    Jimmy Anderson, though.

    It was a bit like a sequel to Broad at Trent Bridge last year, but in the traditional “sequel is slightly less good than the original” sense. It even had the Hollywood-style build up of England looking rubbish with the bat (apart from Bairstow and Hales, and – oddly – Finn), which was a bit like the bit in clichéd films where it looks like the heroes are down and out, shortly before something unrealistic happens.

      1. “In a world where balls swing unfeasibly and no two unfeasibly large swinging balls are the same…”

  2. Well as Anderson and Broad bowled yesterday , if it had been Jack Shantry and a young Steve Watkin in those conditions I ‘m not sure Sri Lanka would have got double figures.

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