It’s been a long time coming and there were questionable claims that it had arrived at Lord’s, but has Jimmy “in the form of his life” Anderson finally located the form of his life?
I was just thinking, Graham Onions having provided the early inroads, that it was time for Jimmy to get in on the act and suddenly, in barely the blink of an eye, he has done, turning familiarly uninspiring figures of 15-4-51-0 into ones of 17.5-5-56-4.
Again, he got a bit lucky – the leg-before decisions against Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson were marginal, but on first viewing most of us, not just Rudi Koertzen, would have given them.
Clarke had earlier got the benefit of the doubt on another very close lbw shout, and then guided a sitter to Freddie at second slip, only for the hero of Lord’s to do the almost unthinkable and drop him, while Johnson will probably just have to admit he’s going through one of those rough stages in his career that most cricketers experience.
It will be remarked upon elsewhere, but I think the statisticians will have their work cut out trying to find another occasion in which two England bowlers have been on a hat-trick in the same Test, let alone the same day and in this case, the same session.
It was a fascinating morning that England, paradoxically, started on the defensive, with men out on the boundary on either side of the wicket for the opening ball – a ball with which Andrew Strauss sprang another surprise by handing to Onions, who had conceded 21 runs from a mediocre three overs yesterday evening.
It proved an inspired – or fortunate – choice as the Durham man whipped out Shane Watson and Michael Hussey out with the first two balls.
The Australian response, however, was equally positive, and Clarke and Ricky Ponting tried to put the pressure back on England by dispatching the loose ball – Flintoff didn’t really get it right in his opening spell – and running their singles aggressively. They shared what might have been momentum-turning stand of 40 odd at around four an over, but the surprisingly soft dismissal of Ponting provided England with another lift just when they needed it and Jimmy slipped into his form of the series so far, if not his entire existence.
Presuming that England mop up the tail quickly after lunch, it will be equally interesting to see how their batsmen fare if the ball keeps swinging. Hilfenhaus can make it do a bit, and if Mitchell, against all expectations, clicks back into gear, the rain that is forecast to return tomorrow may not have such a bearing on the outcome of this match as we’d thought.