Jimmy Anderson – the England ‘quickie’ – has a whole lot going for him. An authentically dashing pseudonym (arguably two?) a talent so poetically/sensually indivisible from biomechanical foreplay it may need a watershed… and just the right amount of chest hair. In addition, the ‘Burnley Express’ can like really bowl too.
On a weekend dominated by that flashier but frankly less beautiful exponent of the slinging art – Broad – #Jimmy produced a moment of such stunning quality that for me it quietly outshone even the lanky one’s seven wicket haul. Like a ruby amongst Fool’s Gold. Broad brought blonde bombshell-shock, total disorder, to a Black Cap batting line-up which may even have fancied its chances at the change of innings. Jimmy meanwhile brought that whiff of the unbuyable, the uncoachable. Though apparently just getting on with it, he brought seduction – the guile of the artist. So whilst player after player was flummoxed by a rare outbreak of fullish length bowling from the coltish giant’s ‘hitting of his straps’, Anderson purred in and pressed his sable from t’other end.
Close investigation, supported in the eye-poppingly High Definition era by revelatory (but now standard) camerawork, confirms it’s not just his further experience that exempts Jimmy from the need for shit-or-bust pitch-hitting. There’s that other dimension going on. What the northern maestro does with the ball really is rather different to the stuff his comparatively one-dimensional new-ball partner serves up. It’s richer. There really is a kind of genius in there. Anderson steps outside the everyday.
Speaking as a member of the Pretty Decent and (Formerly) Occasionally Swiftish Bowler’s Union and now a coach, I can opine on these matters with what I feel to be meaningful closeness – even if much of this proximity may, in truth, have occurred during hours of darkness. Well… sleeping. I do know kindof how Jimmy does it; and it really all is about seam position. Allow me to indulge in something close to an explanation… which will only flirt briefly, I promise, with the prosaic.
Watch Anderson bowl and you may well be struck with the consistency – one might stretch to the word ‘purity’ here – of his seam position. Meaning that effortlessly and rhythmically and consistently the ball is (yes the word is…) delivered at the batsman with the seam skewed that crucial touch either towards the slips (for an away swinger to the right-hander) or towards fine-leg for one that will duck in. For this latter delivery – and it’s this one, the one that flared and snorted and pretty much unzipped Brownlie in the second innings, before he was actually out the next ball – that we’re obsessing ’bout here, right? This delivery, with the shiny side to off and the matt or worn hemisphere to leg had us jolting from our armchairs, did it not? Because its giggle or gag-inducing flight, absurdly challenging as it was for Brownlie, was both an extreme and a perfect expression of mouth-wateringly special co-ordinated brilliance. So much so that it defies the explanation I seek. It was a wonder ball.
Jimmy was seeking to get one to swing in. Late, ideally. So he subtly programmed in (probably) a minor cock of the wrist to shape that seam towards leg. A little. Then he may have just offered a wee tweak on release to impart a touch of clockwise rotation; to increase the likelihood of cut off the pitch (probably) but also (maybe) to exacerbate that swing and duck through the air. Key was and is that keeping your shape and not over-cooking the emphasis. Maybe there is a minor adjustment in timing or opening/closing of the torso but when you know the ball is swinging, present it and hold… and let the chanceful/wonderful airiness of the moment take over. Like it did; how it did!
The ball appeared to shift from well… Lords to somewhere in Belgium in the last four feet of its flight. It landed and kept heading east. It was a truly unplayable delivery; the kind that as a bowler you cannot baleeeeeve has failed to get you a wicket. You are tempted to pretend you’re on telly and milk your own grievous ill-luck. Jimmy gathered, strode back and nailed him next ball with one that went the other way.
Unbeleeeevably, I failed to find this delivery on youtube/similar for your edification and delight. You may find it or you may just take my words for it. Totally bewitching.