With 619 wickets in his Test career, James Anderson is never going to be short of a happy memory – or 10 – but even the traditionally dour leader of England’s attack was prepared to admit that getting India’s captain, Virat Kohli, out first ball in his first innings of this Test series was a bit special.
In the leadup to this match, England’s talisman bowler has sought to play down his seven-year running battle with India’s leading batter, saying he does not mind who gets Kohli out as long as someone does.
Still, there was no doubting the pleasure Anderson took in the India captain’s wicket at Trent Bridge, running across the pitch with his teammates at his heels and a beaming smile on his face.
“I probably used some muscles that I don’t often use there, didn’t I?” said Anderson, whose grumpy persona has become as famous on his BBC podcast as it is on the field. “You always want to challenge yourself against the best and he certainly is one of the best. There was some emotion there in the celebration after getting him out, knowing how important that was for the team.”
It was also, incidentally, the wicket that drew Anderson level with Anil Kumble in the list of all-time Test wicket takers, but that was of less interest to him than the knowledge that Kohli would not be helping his team to post a big score.
“It’s such a big wicket and to bowl the ball exactly where I wanted to, and for him to nick it … it’s something that doesn’t happen that often, getting Kohli out that early. It’s quite unusual so it was just an outpouring of emotion.”
The rain intervened just as England felt they were getting on top, and Anderson admitted his team wished they could have stayed out longer: “Once the cloud comes over here we’ve seen it can be quite bowler friendly, difficult for batting.”
However, it did not detract from the “really good fightback” that the fielding side had shown. “We knew if we got one wicket we could maybe get a cluster, and that’s what we did. I thought we stuck at our task really well as a group.”
As well as praising Ollie Robinson’s approach – Anderson described him as a “strong character” with “the skills to challenge any team in the world, any batsman in the world” – the bowler picked out Jonny Bairstow’s contribution, and not just his run-out of Ajinkya Rahane. “I thought he was on fire all day really,” said Anderson. “His energy is really infectious and drags the team along with him.”
The India opener Rohit Sharma, meanwhile, had no regrets about the hook shot that got him in the final ball of the first session. “It may not look that good because it was just round lunchtime,” Sharma said. “But it’s my shot, and I’ve got many runs many a time playing those shots. I was a bit unlucky, it went straight to the hand – five yards here or there it would have been challenging for the fielder as well. You have to play your shots to get runs against that kind of attack and in these kind of conditions.”