One of the greatest bowlers of all time, James Anderson, who is likely to get his third test rest on his home turf in Leeds, seems a little concerned.
When you see the best bowlers in the world run the ball down the middle of the field, it’s not a pretty sight. If you ask all the bowlers represented at Lord’s, they’ll tell you they want to try other sports, James Anderson wrote for Telegraph Sport. I just have to keep working on my game, talk to the coaches and see if there’s anything else I can do.
However, Anderson’s failures in this series preceded a barrage of bouncers. As he wrote: I’ve been pitching upward for 20 years, trying to swing and move the ball off the deck, and when you can’t do it, it’s frustrating. He was quick to deny that it had anything to do with his age. I don’t think I’m playing particularly bad, I’m just in a slump right now, which you don’t want to see happen at the Ashes tournament. At my age, it’s pretty normal for people to speculate about my future. I’m talking about a period of depression, but it’s only two games out of 181. But I understand. It’s a high-profile series, and you find yourself in the spotlight, and the easiest thing to say is that it’s getting a little old. But the reason I didn’t take wickets is not because of my age.
Maybe it’s not his age, but one thing’s for sure: he doesn’t target stumps that often; over 30% of his strokes on Lord’s were left alone, one statistic says7251 Good length gives so much time for the ball to almost cut off late in the game. Like a reverse stitch (motion), not a reverse swing, if you know what I mean. The ball starts to tailgate a little more after the pitch, and the batsman has to make precise adjustments after he has made his initial movement. For someone who is not Akram or Waqar, this length is the best way to do it.
This is a philosophy that Anderson applies to regular swing as well — rarely too full, usually kissing the ball a good length. He’s not a classic swing bowler who interferes with batsmen purely in the air, by the degree of curving the ball around, but he develops balls to probe the pitch and the batsmen. Swing bowler who uses the pitch to wreak havoc.
When the ball doesn’t bend around corners, he can act as a bowler trying to find movement near the surface and fool the batsmen into thinking the ball is going to do something else entirely. For example, with an old ball, he can put the shiny side on the outside, but the seam position and his fingers will work the ball as if it were going for an inswinger. For most of its trajectory, the ball will tilt slightly inward, pulling the batsman into that line, but the shiny side will cast the ball aside, and belatedly, resulting in an edge. Or with this wobbly ball, he will focus on hitting the length and off-stump line, and let the natural variation become an element of surprise