Joe Root said James Anderson was a “special commodity” who should be enjoyed for as long as possible after England’s leading all-time Test wicket-taker showed his class yet again in an innings and 159-run hammering of India at Lord’s.
The overcast conditions and green-tinged pitch, as much a consequence of a sudden change in the weather after a prolonged dry spell as anything else, were ideal for Anderson.
But the 36-year-old Lancashire swing specialist exploited them expertly in a match haul of nine for 43 that saw him become the first bowler to take 100 Test wickets at Lord’s.
“He’s a special, special commodity, isn’t he?,” said Root of Anderson after England won the second Test in emphatic fashion to go 2-0 up in a five-match series.
“He’s something that doesn’t come along very often and we’ve got to enjoy him while he’s around,” he added.
“There’s been chat about his longevity but at the minute he’s bowling better than he ever has before. Time and again, he puts in fantastic performances.
“For him to be performing as he is, is something else.
“Even though the conditions suited (him), you’ve still got to put the ball in the right area and ask the right questions of the batters.
“Throughout the whole game he did just that, he set the tone well with Stu (Broad), as a whole bowling group we were really, really good.”
– ‘Outstanding’ Woakes –
Yet it was Chris Woakes who was named man-of-the-match after starring with both bat and ball.
Woakes, selected after England omitted Ben Stokes because of his fellow pace-bowling all-rounder’s ongoing trial for affray, made 137 not out — his maiden Test century — and shared a partnership of 189 with Jonny Bairstow (93) that helped the hosts recover from 89 for four to an eventual total of 396 for seven declared.
He also took match figures of four for 43, with his haul including the prize scalp of India captain and star batsman Virat Kohli, his erstwhile team-mate when they both played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, for just 23 in the tourists’ meagre first-innings 107.
It is not yet known whether Stokes will be available to play in the third Test in Nottingham starting Saturday, but Warwickshire’s Woakes proved himself to be far more than a mere ‘stand-in’.
“Ben is obviously a huge part of this squad, so it’s a miss him not being here this week,” said Root.
“But what it did was create an opportunity for Chris to come in and perform — and boy, he didn’t disappoint did he?
“He was outstanding. That’s something we really want to harness as an example to the guys in and around the squad — when you get your chance, make it as hard as possible to leave you out.
“It’s a great headache to have for us, going into next week.”
Only once in the 141-year history of Test cricket have a side come from 2-0 down to win a five-match series, when an Australia side inspired by batting great Donald Bradman rallied to beat England back in 1936/37.
But Root, having seen England beat India by just 31 runs in a see-saw first Test at Edgbaston, was in no mood to take anything for granted.
“India are doing everything they can, but…we’ve given them nothing. I don’t see any lack of fight, or lack of trying (from them).
“Obviously, it would be a dream to put in five complete performances and have five wins. But it’s important we don’t get complacent, arrogant.”