James Anderson, who overtook India’s Ravichandran Ashwin as the number one bowler in ICC’s rankings has credited Zaheer Khan’s role in improving his game. Anderson is England’s highest wicket taker in Test cricket.
Conventional or reverse swing where a ball deviates late in flight is one of the most difficult types of bowling to face, particularly if the bowler is capable, as Anderson is, of deliveries in excess of 80mph.
Zaheer was a master reverse swing bowler. He redefined himself when India toured England in 2007 summer and helped India win series by 1-0 margin. The match at Trent Bridge was won because of Zaheer’s nine wickets in the match.
Batsmen can get some idea of what to expect if they can see which is the shiny side of the ball, as this will offer a clue as to whether the swing will be away from or towards their stumps.
However, that becomes a far tougher task if the bowler is capable of keeping the ball hidden from view until the moment of delivery.
Asked at an Oval event staged by England-Pakistan series sponsors Investec where he had got the idea of hiding the ball from, Anderson said Tuesday: “From Zaheer Khan. We found it really difficult to face.”
The 34 year old is the England’s leading wicket taker with 462 wickets in 118 matches at an average of 28.17 apiece. Among fast bowlers only Courtney Walsh (519) and Glenn McGrath (563) are ahead of him.
Anderson would like to continue the good form ahead of the Oval Test match. England are currently leading the series by 2-1 margin. The number one ranking for bowlers has changed frequently with Ashwin and Pakistani leggie Yasir Shah holding the position in recent past.
If England won the Oval Test match they could become the No.1 side in Test cricket, provided other results go in their favour. England last achieved the top summit in 2011, when they whitewashed touring Indians 4-0.
Anderson believes that the current team has potential to remain numero uno for a considerable period of time. In 2011 team had superstar players like Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann. The Test team lost their ranking to proteas in 2012 home summer.
I think our team at the moment is better equipped to get to number one and stay there,” said Anderson.
“We are a more talented side. I think we are more mentally tough — I think we showed what character we’ve got coming from 100 runs behind and managing to win (at Edgbaston).”
He added: “The lads we have got in the dressing room are very down to earth, honest with their own appraisal and the team’s own form.
“If they can keep developing and improving then the sky is the limit. I think we have got more time on our side.
“In the team then (in 2012), we had a lot of players early to mid 30s – now we have got the backbone of a side that could go on for another 10 years, and that is very exciting.”
Jimmy might be England’s senior player but had some heated exchanges with umpires at Edgbaston. He was later taken out of the attack for running on the pitch.
His words of regret to the match officials prevented disciplinary action and Anderson said: “I apologised to the umps, shook hands at the end and was all smiles.
“I definitely need that edge. I think it’s made me the bowler I am, so I don’t want to lose that.
“But at the same time, I want to stay the right side of the line.
“I don’t want to behave like that on the field. I’ve got a lot of respect for the umpires.”
Anderson’s true test will come in upcoming Bangladesh and India tours. The conditions will not be same and Anderson’s reverse swing bowling and methods will come in to play.
England has a busy season ahead and they would hope that Anderson carries his form and leads from the front and proves that he can master all conditions.