FOR a man with almost 600 Test wickets, a couple more might not seem a big deal – but they brought great relief and comfort to Jimmy Anderson.
The Lancashire swinger removed two of Pakistan’s top three batsmen on day one of the Second Test and went some way towards erasing his painful memories of last week.
And, with England’s other three quick bowlers all claiming a wicket, Joe Root’s team reduced Pakistan to 126-5 at the end of a rain-reduced day.
Anderson admitted he became “frustrated and emotional” in the First Test and said he would probably be dropped if he produced many more such poor performances.
Well, he bowled with rhythm, accuracy and movement in overcast, muggy conditions suited to his talents.
He reached 88mph, too, which isn’t bad for a fella of 38.
Anderson certainly justified Root’s decision to give him an instant opportunity for some kind of redemption rather than resting him for this match.
Surrey’s Sam Curran, playing his second Test of the summer, said: “Jimmy bowled really well.
“I was pretty shocked at all the stuff going on about him after the last match.
“He’s a world-class bowler and anyone who doubts him is not very sensible. He proved again today how good he is.
“I love trying to learn from him, picking his brain.
“I’m sure he’ll get a five-for in this innings and then go on to 600 wickets. It’s very exciting, he has so much class.”
England’s position would have been better if Dom Sibley and Rory Burns had not dropped catches in the slips before lunch.
Both times, opener Abid Ali was the fortunate batsman. Sibley should have held his when Abid had scored just one and Burns’ fumble to reprieve Abid on 21 was an absolute dolly.
Later, the pair would partially make amends by managing to hold onto catches.
For the first time this summer, England entered a Test match without either of their two fastest bowlers – Jofra Archer or Mark Wood.
Or three fastest if you count all-rounder Ben Stokes, who is flying to New Zealand to visit his unwell father.
According to Root and head coach Chris Silverwood, England’s blueprint to regain the Ashes next winter is bowlers with high pace.
So this is a horses for courses selection rather than building to take on the Aussies.
Pakistan chose to bat even though captain Azhar Ali knew it would be tough for his batsmen.
Sure enough, Anderson struck with his eighth delivery when left-hander Shan Masood was plumb lbw.
Masood scored 156 in the first innings at Old Trafford but has made 0 and 1 since.
Abid was spilled twice, Azhar deflected the ball back onto his stumps but the bails remained intact.
And England did not call for a review when Snicko showed Abid had feathered a catch behind. So plenty was going Pakistan’s way.
Eventually, however, Azhar edged Anderson and this time Burns completed a catch in the slips. He held on again when Abid edged Sam Curran.
Asad Shafiq was caught by Sibley at third slip off Stuart Broad and then Chris Woakes had Fawad Alam leg before on review after he was initially given not out.
This was Fawad’s first Test for 11 years and, in that time, he has adopted an incredible, open-chested stance reminiscent of former Windies batsman Shiv Chanderpaul.
He lasted four balls in his comeback innings.