Champion England bowler Jimmy Anderson has, again, defied his birth certificate to deliver his best performance on Australian soil, according to legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne, and keep his team’s slim Ashes hopes alive.
After dismissing David Warner late on Sunday, Anderson starred on the second day of third Test, bowling with tremendous discipline, control and even some vigour.
The 39-year-old – yes, 39 – produced a stunning spell at the start of the day, which was justly rewarded when he snuck an in-swinger past the Steve Smith’s defence and hit the stumps to remove the Aussie star for just 16.
Then as opener Marcus Harris patiently pushed towards his maiden Test century in the second session, Anderson struck, drawing the left-hander forward and finding the outside edge of his bat, leading to a comfortable catch to skipper Joe Root at first slip.
While Anderson took crucial Australian top-order wickets, he also dried up the runs. His figures at tea read: 19 overs, nine maidens and 3-24 (an economy rate of 1.2).
“When’s their (England’s) next tour?” former Aussie spinner Kerry O’Keeffe said with tongue-in cheek when analysing Anderson’s performance on Fox Cricket.
“At 39? Stop it.
“They’ve had a lot of heart-to-hearts about how they’ve bowled the wrong length throughout the series, but (on Monday) it’s been spot on and Jimmy Anderson’s led the way in that.”
Legendary Aussie wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said Anderson had produced a “relentless display” of seam bowling, while former England captain Michael Vaughan added: “In Jimmy Anderson, we’re watching sheer greatness.
“Will England ever produce a bowler like this ever again? I’m not too sure they will.
“He’s been that good over the years and we’ve just got to revel in what we’re seeing. Whether it’s for another couple of months, whether it’s for a few years, whether he makes 2023 – we must enjoy every single spell.”
Anderson, who’s playing his 168th Test for England, sits first on the list for most Test wickets by a fast bowler and third overall. However his output in Australia – 66 wickets at 33.6 from 20 Tests – has paled in comparison to his record in England – 402 wickets at 24.2 from 95 Tests – across his career.
But on Monday, Anderson made the most of an uncharacteristically green MCG wicket to give England some hope amid an Ashes series where it’s 2-0 down.
“We’ve all seen Jimmy Anderson tour Australia and we’ve seen him bowl in England. I would go as far to say today is the best I’ve seen Jimmy Anderson bowl in Australia,” Warne told Fox Cricket.
“He bowled a couple of good spells with that pink ball a few years ago in Adelaide (2017), but his record’s not great here in Australia … Today, I’ve watched him bowl and this is the Jimmy Anderson everyone expects.
“This is as good as I’ve ever seen him bowl here in Australia. His length’s been good, he’s pitched the ball up, he’s beaten the bat, he could’ve had a number of wickets today.”
Warne suggested Anderson appeared to be bowling with more energy and attitude than usual.
“He’s normally very rhythmical. He’s got a lot of rhythm where he just runs in and he doesn’t really over-accentuate himself. But watching him run in here, he’s absolutely steaming in,” Warne said.
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