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Bridgetown and beyond: James Anderson’s five best Test match spells

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5. 5-20 vs India, Lord’s, August 2018

After the thrilling highs of the first Test of the series at Edgbaston where England turned a seemingly hopeless Test around for an unlikely final morning win, Anderson blew India away on the second morning of the second at Lord’s following a first day washout. From the first over of the day, Anderson’s brilliance was on full display. A hooping outswinger to Murali Vijay took out his off stump on the fifth ball of Anderson’s first over. It was only off Anderson’s 16th ball that the batters were able to find a run, before KL Rahul became his next victim. Falling victim to Anderson’s metronomic length, the ball did just enough to take Rahul’s outside edge through to Bairstow, with rain intervening halfway through that over.

In the worst kinds of conditions to face Anderson, grey sky, on and off the pitch with drizzle in the air, the anticipated battle between Anderson and Virat Kohli swung into gear. Denied the chance to finish that particular spat, Anderson had Ajinkya Rahane immediately into his second spell, hooping the ball away to take another edge. Kuldeep Yadav trapped in front and Ishant Sharma the final blow, Anderson finished with 5-20 and India dismantled for 107, the final dismissal his 99th wicket at Lord’s.

4. 7-43 vs New Zealand, Nottingham, June 2008

Anderson’s career-best figures before his spell in 2017 against the West Indies came against New Zealand. Pre-2009 Ashes and still with question marks hanging over whether Anderson would fulfill his potential having spent time out of the England side after his debut in 2003, this was the summer he established his position as a lock. In the first innings of the third Test at Nottingham, he silenced his doubters. He bowled opener Aaron Redmond and Brendon McCullum within the space of three overs, cartwheeling his future coach’s off stump. In a masterful display of swing bowling, it was the first time Anderson was seen at his unplayable best as he barrelled through the middle order. Daniel Flynn and Gareth Hopkins were both trapped lbw with inswingers, before Jacob Oram was caught behind with an off cutter. Anderson dismissed all of New Zealand’s top seven and they were eventually bowled out for 123.

3. 6-17 vs Pakistan, Nottingham, July 2010

After taking 5-54 in the first innings, Anderson’s annihilation of Pakistan in the second was his first ten wicket haul in Test cricket and one of the earlier exemplifiers of his brilliance. Having set Pakistan an improbable 435 to win, Stuart Broad stole the early limelight by dismissing Salman Butt and Azhar Ali in his second over. Coming into bowl the next, having conceded just one run off his first two, Anderson swung one into the left-handed Umar Amin, striking him on the pad plumb in front of leg stump. Ending overnight still having conceded only one run from his four overs in the evening, signature inswingers did for Imran Farhat and Umar Akmal, before Anderson came back on to help Steven Finn mop up the tail.

Anderson’s last wicket of Mohammad Asif saw Pakistan bowled out for 80, and sealed his ridiculously miserly figures of 6-17 off 15 overs.

2. 6-42 vs West Indies, Bridgetown, May 2015

The only entry that comes in a loss, Anderson’s display in the first innings at Bridgetown was one of his most destructive and most memorable. As a predictable England collapse drew condemnation on Day One, Anderson, as has so often been the case, had other ideas for how the Test would progress. He took out Kraigg Brathwaite with the second ball of his first over, pitching it up and straightening off the surface to take the edge. Another edge followed before he trapped Marlon Samuels lbw for a third wicket inside his first five overs of the innings. Jermaine Blackwood was the only source of resistance from the West Indies, but Anderson removed him with the last ball of the innings. On what was a typically unfriendly wicket, Anderson extracted every last ounce he could out of the conditions to put on a clinic.

1. 7-42 vs West Indies, Lord’s, September 2017

In search of his 500th Test wicket, the stage was set after a low-key first innings for Anderson to take centre stage in the second. Needing one more wicket for the milestone, he passed the edge of Kraigg Brathwaite’s bat multiple times before producing the perfect inswinger to knock over middle stump. From there, he rattled through the rest of the West Indies batters, with frightening speed to take his career-best figures of 7-42. He removed Shai Hope, who had memorably brought West Indies a victory at Headingley in the previous Test, with a beauty that pitched on off stump and just scratched his outside edge. Roston Chase was his sixth victim just two balls later before he wrapped up his figures and ended the match by obliterating Kemar Roach’s middle stump.

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