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James Anderson

Anderson makes early incisions to near 500

[ESPNcricinfo]Lunch West Indies 35 for 2 (Powell 17*, Hope 8*) v England.

At an autumnal Lord’s, England’s evergreen attack leader, James Anderson, moved to the brink of 500 Test wickets as West Indies had to contend with cloud cover, a rain delay and one of the most prolific fast bowlers in history after choosing to bat first in the deciding Test of the series.

At lunch, Anderson had taken two of the three wickets he needed before play began to become the sixth man to 500 in Tests. Jason Holder’s decision at the toss might have been considered a brave move, even considering their victory in the second Test; a buoyant West Indies, most of whom have never played at Lord’s before, knew they must rise to the occasion.

Shai Hope, arriving at the crease in the 15th over, struck his first and third deliveries from Anderson for four to suggest he remained in fine touch after twin hundreds at Headingley, while Kieran Powell seemed to benefit from adjusting his guard over towards middle and leg stump while making a watchful 17.

In a searching 12-over spell from England’s new-ball pair, West Indies lost Kraigg Brathwaite, another of the heroes of Headingley, to a catch at the wicket before a heavy downpour sent the teams off for more than half an hour. On a slowish surface, Anderson and Stuart Broad regularly beat the outside edge, a trail of patience that Kyle Hope was ultimately unequipped for as he also tickled behind attempting to leave after the resumpton.

The first September Test to be held at Lord’s was greeted by a cool morning with plenty of low cloud and Joe Root may not have been too despondent at telling his senior quicks they were bowling. Powell scored the only boundary in the first 50 minutes, before rain swept in, a thick edge steered down and wide of the slips, but moved into double-figures with a more confident stab through midwicket, also off Broad.

Anderson should have removed Brathwaite on 3, when he steered a regulation edge to Alastair Cook at first slip – only for Cook to drop the simplest of catches. It was a continuation of the malaise that afflicted both sides at Headingley, and where Cook dropped two on the final day. Anderson’s frustration was palpable.

He had No. 498 a few overs later, however. Brathwaite was dragged forward and into an area where his decision-making became as cloudy as the skies above – perhaps fearful that the ball would run in at him down the slope – and he only succeeded in feathering through to his new Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow with an angled bat as the ball straightened off the pitch.

Bairstow then took a fine diving catch to remove Hope for a duck – his second in five Test innings – as Anderson again shaped the ball away from the Pavilion End.

Broad’s search for rhythm (and wickets) has been a theme of the Test summer but he initially bowled well without reward. One delivery, left alone by Powell, passed straight over the stumps after seaming back in, while he was given five slips at one point to Brathwaite.

After Holder called correctly at the toss, West Indies had the chance to make the running for the first time. They were unchanged from Headingley, with Devendra Bishoo keeping his place despite his erratic deployment during West Indies’ series-levelling victory. England had named their XI on the previous day, with Toby Roland-Jones recalled for a Test on his home ground at the expense of Chris Woakes.

Lord’s provided the perfect start for Root’s captaincy when England began their Test summer with a crushing victory over South Africa in July and he would have been keen that his side’s undulating progress ends on an incline ahead of the Ashes. For West Indies, the promise of Headingley still hung crisply in the air. This is the season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness” and Holder’s side remain hopeful that something fruitful is just beginning.

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