When Anderson bowled that over of rare beauty on Tuesday afternoon to rock India, there were immediate references to a delivery that Wasim Akram bowled way back in 1999 when Pakistan played their first Test of the ‘revival series’ at Chepauk.
Coming over the wicket, Akram pitched the reversing ball on leg stump and beat Rahul Dravid, who was shaping up for a defensive shot, to knock the top of his offstump. Anderson, too, shaped his deliveries to go away and brought those back after pitching to dismiss Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane, and the British media was prompt to call it the best over of reverse swing by an England bowler.
But the 38-year-old from Burnley seemed to cut down on the element of mystique to those deliveries. “You know, I may have got a bit lucky that a few hit the bare patches and did so much. To be honest, I was looking for a leg-before or a caught at mid-wicket, but at my age, it’s nice to see the stump cartwheeling,” Anderson said. It’s not the first time the paceman is weaving his magic in India. While he played a big role in 2006 when England beat India in Mumbai with six wickets in the game, MS Dhoni felt Anderson was the biggest difference between the two teams when the visitors triumphed here in 2012.
The paceman feels he has evolved a lot since 2006, when he was still finding his feet at the top level. “I am a very different bowler now and I can perform on different surfaces. Back then, I used to depend on swing and reverse swing, but now I can bowl cutters and be more consistent. Actually, I have benefited a lot from cricket out here,” Anderson said.
The man with 611 scalps was brilliant in Sri Lanka just a few weeks ago as well, taking 6-40 at Galle to set up a Test win. Now after the Chennai heroics, Anderson feels he is a better bowler than what he was at his peak in 2012 as well.
“I am a better bowler now than I was in 2012. And I seriously feel I can keep improving. When I feel that I can’t get any better, I should think of doing something else.”
We would all like to believe that it won’t happen anytime soon.