English troika has a ball

English troika has a ball

Pacemen Anderson, Tremlett and Broad look out for each other

English troika has a ball

master and his protege: James Anderson (left) has taken over the responsibility of guiding young turks such as Stuart Broad. AFP

The right-arm quick, the most experienced of the current English bowlers, isn’t necessarily talked about when it comes to modern-day pace greats but he is deceptively dangerous. By extension, the same can be said about the English pace attack as well. In isolation, the likes of Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett or Anderson himself may not give sleepless nights to rival batsmen but together, they can be more dangerous than any present-day bowling unit, especially in conditions that suit them.

Australia found it out the hard way when they were drubbed 3-1 in the last Ashes Down Under, and India are experiencing the same on the present tour. The strength of the home attack can be judged from the fact that someone like Steven Finn hasn’t even been able to make the cut to the 12-man squad. Working in tandem has been the biggest hallmark of this English bowling unit. Where Indian bowlers failed to apply pressure despite pushing the home batsmen often on to the back foot, the England pacemen succeeded greatly in this aspect.

India were of course handicapped to a large extent with Zaheer Khan unable to bowl after sustaining a hamstring injury, and notwithstanding Praveen Kumar’s spell in the first and Ishant Sharma’s wicket-taking burst in the second, the visitors were left helpless as the host batsmen recouped every time they found themselves in trouble.                  

On a Lord’s strip where wickets are generally hard to come by, the team work by the English bowlers was the key to their success. If it was Broad who shone in the first with others working around him, Anderson, the leader of the pack, found his range, rhythm and wickets in the second after the other two pacemen roughed up the Indian batsmen.        

“I don’t think it matters,” noted Anderson when asked if the rotational policy was a bad idea when a particular set of bowlers was doing well. “Stuart and (Tim) Bresnan did a very good job of it in Australia; pretty much everyone has stepped in and has done a good job in the last couple of years. The fact that we have used some five-six bowlers in the last couple of years, we are used to playing with each other and spending time with each other. We do talk a lot about the game when we are not playing. It doesn’t really matter who is playing or not, we have got a good unit,” offered the 28-year-old, who claimed a five-wicket haul to put India on the mat.

Unlike the Indians, applying sustained pressure was crucial to England’s domination. While runs were coming freely even when England lost wickets, India, who have several stroke-makers in the side, were choked for runs whenever they lost wickets. “Yes, we talked about it before,” said Anderson when asked if there was particular plan in their approach. “The plan was to create pressure and stop them from scoring. But you can’t do that if one guy is going nearly four an over. So you got to work with the guy at the other end and that’s something we have done really well.”

England skipper Andrew Strauss even termed his bowlers’ performance as close to being perfect in the last two years or so while Anderson put it on par with their show in the last Ashes. “The ball swung a little bit for us in the first innings but not in the second innings. The way we created pressure without the ball doing a great deal -- I think a few balls kept low but the wicket was still pretty good -- was fantastic and probably was up there with Australia, if not any better,” he pointed out.