James Anderson’s acquittal yesterday from a charge of abusing and pushing Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja during the first test rounds of a perfect week for Alastair Cook and his men.
A first test win in a year, the return to form of Cook and Bell with the bat, and Anderson and Broad with the ball. While Gary Ballance continued to make this Test cricket business look easy, Moeen Ali showed he has the potential to mature into a top test spinner and Joss Butler showed why he has such a big future ahead of him.
Anderson who had been charged with a level three misconduct charge could have faced a maximum 4 match ban if found guilty will now be available for Thursday’s 4th test at Old Trafford. Meanwhile Jadeja won an appeal against a fine which had been meted out against him for his part in the incident and will also be free to play in Thursday’s game.
In my book England’s series hinged on the Lancashire paceman’s acquittal and with Anderson now available for the final two tests, I believe that England will now go on and win the series.
After a poor first two tests, the ‘Burnley Express’ bowling a fuller length than in the previous two tests and swinging it in and out, spearheaded a revitalised England attack picking up 5 key wickets in the first innings and two more in the second innings to finish with impressive match figures of seven for seventy seven. In the process moving to 371 test wickets and inching ever closer to Ian Botham’s record of 383.
With his intimate knowledge of Old Trafford and the expectation that the pitch will offer something for the bowlers after the first couple of days, Anderson should cause India’s batsmen plenty of problems. The hearbeat of England’s attack for so long, the 32 year-old is still skipper Alistair Cook’s go to man and when he’s on song he lifts the rest of the attack and the whole team.
With Moeen Ali getting better every game and Chris Woakes-despite being wicketless bowling well, the England attack go into Thursday’s Fourth Test in confident mood, with only paceman Chris Jordan’s inaccuracy the only concern.
After MS Dhoni confirmed that India’s matchwinner in the second test Ishant Sharma was out of Thursday’s match and following their attack’s struggles at the Rose Bowl, Dhoni and co may opt for a second spinner in Ashwin instead of a sixth batsman. Having omitted the spinner, who has the added advantage of being a good batsman, in favour of an extra batsman in an experiment which failed and then watching Moeen Ali pick up 6-67 in the second innings; recalling Ashwin at the expense of Rohit Sharma would seem to be the right thing to do.
But despite a top quality batting line-up, I fancy England’s attack under talisman Anderson to get the upper hand over Dhoni and co, and England’s batters under a back to form Cook to have the edge of the Indian attack.
If as predicted above England do go on to win the series, I’ve got a feeling that Cook will look back at Anderson’s acquittal as a key moment in a first series victory in a year.