England v Pakistan, Second Test, Day Four Analysis
England 589 for 8 dec and 173 for 1 dec (Cook 76*, Root 71*) beat Pakistan 198 and 234 (Hafeez 41, Anderson 3-41, Woakes 3-41) by 330 runs
England’s fourth innings bowling performance, which saw them dismiss Pakistan for 234 in 70.3 overs to complete a thumping 330 run victory, was undoubtedly a team effort, but it was a team effort led by the leader of the bowling attack James Anderson. Anderson took the first two wickets to fall and all three of his wickets were frontline batsmen; he was simply too good, and paved the way for England to complete an impressive comeback after their defeat at Lord’s.
Given England’s protestations as to the quality of the pitch, which they insisted was still excellent for batting, it was important that England started well in Pakistan’s fourth innings so not to give them any semblance of hope of a miraculous escape.
Any such hopes were quickly extinguished by Anderson’s seven over opening spell in which he displayed what has now become typical mastery of swing bowling on his way to taking 2 for 13.
Anderson’s average speed in these seven immaculate opening overs was just 79.27 mph and his fastest delivery a mere 80.75 mph. It is interesting to recall how Anderson’s earliest days in an England shirt were under a Duncan Fletcher regime which insisted international pace bowlers must be capable of consistently bowling above 85 mph. Back then Anderson made the grade; he wouldn’t now.
Pace is of no concern when you can swing the ball like Anderson can. In his first seven overs Anderson found, on average, 1.79 degrees of swing. 35 of his 42 deliveries were away-swingers and seven were in-swingers. His biggest swinging delivery moved by 3.8 degrees away from the batsman. Add in the fact that seven of his deliveries also deviated off the pitch by at least 0.5 degrees and the challenge posed by Anderson’s lateral movement is immense.
Swing and seam is only part of the story however. It is accuracy and intelligence that elevates Anderson from good to great. In his opening spell 20 of his 42 deliveries pitched on off stump while a further 18 pitched outside off stump, the other four pitched on middle. In terms of line 31 of his 42 deliveries pitched in a two metre range between six and eight metres from the stumps; a traditional ‘good’ length.
This masterful control of line and length is what makes Anderson such a difficult bowler to face. The 22 deliveries that pitched in line with off or middle stump naturally tempt the batsmen to play a shot, most probably a vertical bat, defensive shot, and the 31 deliveries that pitched on a ‘good’ length encourage a batsman to play off the front foot.
Picture in your head the shot that the batsmen will invariably be playing to a typical Anderson delivery. With that image in your mind now consider that 35 of Anderson’s 42 opening spell deliveries swung away from the bat, towards a packed slip cordon, by an average of 1.79 degrees. That is the challenge that faced the Pakistani batsmen.
In Anderson’s fourth over, the left-handed Shan Masood was the first batsman to be dismissed. In total he bowled three consecutive balls to him, all from round the wicket and all swinging and seaming away by at least 1.1 degrees. The first pitched 6.76 metres from the stumps and seven cm outside off stump. The following two deliveries were each marginally shorter and marginally wider than the ball preceding it, but with each delivery angled in Masood could not help but play and when the third delivery bounced 90 cm, which was 25 cm more than the ball before it, and deviated away by 0.96 degrees, that was enough to find the outside edge of the bat from where the ball flew to Alastair Cook at first slip.
Azhar Ali was the second victim of Anderson’s opening spell. Before the dismissal delivery Anderson bowled ten consecutive balls at Azhar, each pitching within a 1.41 metres of one another in a ‘good’ length range. All but one of them swung away from the right-hander and Azhar scored two runs from the ten balls. For the wicket-ball Anderson went wide of the crease and angled the ball in. Azhar, possibly eager to score and lining up what was a slightly shorter delivery, shuffled across his crease, looking to turn the ball away to the leg side. When the ball deviated in off the pitch by 0.35 degrees it was enough to beat Azhar’s angled bat face and strike his front pad plumb in front. Azhar was at fault here, he should have been looking to play straighter but the use of the crease and the angle it created following a pattern of consistent out-swingers was intelligent bowling from Anderson.
When Anderson’s opening spell was over Pakistan were 37 for 2 and their remote chances of saving the match had disappeared.
Anderson’s third and final wicket was Asad Shafiq, arguably Pakistan’s best technician. The ball was 79.10 mph. It pitched 6.06 metres from the stumps and right in line with off stump. It swung away by 1.55 degrees before deviating in by 0.85 degrees. That deviation and possibly a lack of bounce—45cm to be precise— helped the ball beat Shafiq’s inside edge before thudding into his planted front leg. Strangely it was given not out on the field but a review showed it to be out. Shafiq was gone, the tail was exposed and a four day Test was all but guaranteed.