Duncan Fletcher’s assertion that Sajid Mahmood is still too erratic to be trusted in an Ashes Test makes it near certain that James Anderson will play in the 1st Test. This is no bad thing; Anderson appears fully recovered from his injury. And, when he last played a Test, Anderson bowled with tremendous nous to claim match figures of 6-79 to help England level the series in India, claiming Messrs Dravid, Tendulkar and Sehwag along the way.
Of course, Anderson made his name on England’s tour to Australia four years ago; his wicket-taking ability in the VB Series was one of very few positives. After the premature media hype that followed his match-winning exploits in the World Cup match with Pakistan, his career stumbled somewhat. Following Simon Jones’ return, he became the perennial 12th man, bowling willingly in the nets but palpably lacking match fitness when occasionally called upon.
Throughout all this, Anderson’s wicket-taking knack – his penchant for bowling very good balls – was never in doubt. His consistency and ability to refrain from delivering four balls was. But the more mature Anderson, though still just 24, has certainly improved this. His pace and swing, when aided by the ability to tie batsmen down, can prove deadly, as India’s illustrious players would no doubt confirm. Amidst all the talk of the effect England’s other bowlers could have, Anderson could be England’s wildcard this winter.
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