SPORTS NEWS­PA­PER OF THE YEAR

598 and count­ing …

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - CHIEF CRICKET COR­RE­SPON­DENT

An­der­son clos­ing on mile­stone af­ter five-wicket haul

James An­der­son spent an age choos­ing the ball for Pak­istan’s sec­ond in­nings, care­fully sort­ing through a box of shiny new Dukes be­fore set­tling on one that will prob­a­bly end up dis­played in a glass case in the Lord’s mu­seum.

An­der­son is on 598 wick­ets, two short of be­com­ing the first quick bowler to take 600 in Test cricket. It is a mile­stone that has be­come a mill­stone this sum­mer, clearly weigh­ing on his mind.

His con­fi­dence should be high af­ter his five for 56 en­sured Pak­istan fol­low on to­day 310 runs be­hind, de­spite Azhar Ali’s out­stand­ing un­beaten 141.

This is a new-ball pitch and An­der­son struck four times in Pak­istan’s first in­nings be­fore the ball was 13 overs old. With heavy clouds, and rain of course, fore­cast to­day, con­di­tions should be ideal for swing and seam bowl­ing.

But An­der­son is an old pro and a pes­simist, so he will be ner­vously look­ing at the fore­cast and fear­ing the worst. He will also be mut­ter­ing about a bizarre, and slap­stick, fi­nal 15 min­utes of play that saw three catches go down off his bowl­ing.

Zak Craw­ley was the chief cul­prit. Even af­ter scor­ing 267 it is a good idea to steer clear of An­der­son when you have dropped a sit­ter off him at slip two balls af­ter an­other chance had gone down.

An­der­son was bent dou­ble with his head in his hands when Craw­ley dropped a straight­for­ward edge off Mohammad Ab­bas for what would have been his 598th wicket.

It should have been An­der­son’s 599th, for Rory Burns had missed a slightly harder catch two balls ear­lier off Azhar. An­der­son took that one in his stride, but not the miss by Craw­ley. He had a dis­dain­ful look only an old bowler can give a young bats­man who has not had to bend his back for 18 years.

The third drop had an el­e­ment of high com­edy that even made An­der­son crack a half smile.

Azhar drove tiredly on 130 to Stu­art Broad at mid-on, where An­der­son’s great part­ner dropped an­other easy catch. But in the may­hem Ab­bas tried to steal a sin­gle and was run out by a direct hit from Broad.

An­der­son had a rue­ful look when Dom Si­b­ley held on to an edge off Naseem Shah two overs later that ended the in­nings. He led the team off, and mo­ments later was with the fourth um­pire rum­mag­ing through the new balls like an ex­pert jew­eller sort­ing through di­a­monds look­ing for duds.

An­der­son will have wor­ries about the slip cor­don hang­ing on to edges to­day, but not Jos But­tler, who has en­joyed a fine game with the gloves as well as with the bat.

Three ex­cel­lent catches prove how success in one dis­ci­pline breeds con­fi­dence in an­other. He was a bro­ken man af­ter miss­ing three chances off Dom Bess in the first Test. But since then he has ironed out a tech­ni­cal flaw in his bat­ting and sub­se­quently mas­tered a run chase and scored his sec­ond

Head in hands: James An­der­son re­acts af­ter an­other chance is dropped off his bowl­ing

Test cen­tury. Life is bet­ter, he is cer­tain of his place and the fum­bles be­hind the stumps are gone.

But­tler has worked hard with wick­et­keep­ing coach Bruce French since ar­riv­ing in Southamp­ton. They have used the Mer­lyn spin bowl­ing ma­chine to help his re­ac­tions stand­ing up and he took a sharp chance off Bess that was ris­ing high to his left off Fawad Alam.

Azhar’s form has been patchy for two years and, as cap­tain, he av­er­aged 26 with one hun­dred go­ing into this match. His tac­tics as Eng­land stole the first Test in Manch­ester were un­imag­i­na­tive and timid, and scores of 0, 18 and 20 in the se­ries had put him un­der real pres­sure to keep his job.

So this was an im­por­tant in­nings that re­stored pride for him and his team. In do­ing so he be­came the fifth Pak­istani to score 6,000 Test runs. This was his 17th Test hun­dred – and it was a fine one, too.

He sur­vived three Eng­land re­views be­fore he had reached 20. One on Satur­day night off Jofra Archer, and yes­ter­day morn­ing a wasted one by Broad, who talked Joe Root into hav­ing a look at an lbw that al­ways looked to be go­ing down the leg side. A fi­nal one was jus­ti­fied when an ab­so­lute snorter from Archer whis­tled past Azhar’s nose. Um­pire Richard Illing­worth made a su­perb call, judg­ing the ball had flicked Azhar’s shoul­der.

Azhar found sup­port from Mohammad Rizwan, a gutsy, dif­fi­cult bats­man to dis­lodge, who made a sec­ond suc­ces­sive fifty. Their 138run stand in 38.5 overs made the most of a soft­ened ball and lit­tle lat­eral move­ment. Archer banged it in, re­spond­ing with two quick overs in ex­cess of 90mph and hit Rizwan on the head.

Azhar ex­panded his game, hav­ing taken 113 balls to move into the thir­ties, but once he clicked he was away. His next 74 came off just 92. He brought up his cen­tury with his 15th four off 205 balls.

With the in­nings drift­ing and Eng­land look­ing flat, they needed a break­through. Chris Woakes struck lucky – Rizwan flick­ing at a leg-side ball that But­tler took div­ing wide to his left.

It opened up the tail with the sec­ond new ball five overs away. The harder ball did the rest, Pak­istan slump­ing from 236 for six to 273 all out as Eng­land com­bined bril­liance with farce. But­tler plucked a su­perb leg-side catch to dis­miss Sha­heen Afridi, be­fore the three drops off An­der­son.

His mood eased when he dis­missed last man Naseem, set­ting up to­day to be one An­der­son might never for­get.

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