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Jimmy's got a gun, and it misfired



James_Anderson_cricket_England_JimmyAs a fast-bowler, there is no doubt about Jimmy Anderson's credentials. In a world nowadays utterly dominated by wrist spinners and wonders struck part timers (Anderson's compatriot Moeen Ali included) Jimmy Anderson, along with Dale Steyn, is kind of a torch-bearer of pace bowling. Both have enjoyed overwhelming success, both have tormented the best of batting attacks and both have endured injuries and humorous attacks from the enemy camp, at times provoking their ire.

While you probably can't place Anderson in the pantheon of the most emotionally explosive cricketers, given that a mere stare from Allan Donald or a cold glare by Curtly Ambrose caused nightmares in the minds of the most elite batsmen, you can't exclude Jimmy Anderson from the ranks of the emotion that popular culture describes as a poison to be avoided at all costs.

Jimmy is the best hope for an English attack to be a thorn in the flesh of their opponents. But it is surprising that Jimmy Anderson grouses about sour grapes, as proven by his recent comments regarding Indian Test captain Virat Kohli. Test cricket is always going to be cricket's most arduous format, even as T20 and ODI enjoy their loopy repetitions. But even then, to be frustrated and to vent anger you should have plausible reasons for it to be expressed in the first place.

Did going wicket-less in Mumbai infuriate Jimmy?

The mind of the purist who enjoyed India's innings victory over England in Mumbai was filled with appreciation for Virat's dismissive double ton. That being said, one was equally disappointed with the fact that a bowler of Jimmy Anderson's class emerged wicket-less from the Wankhede. The heightened expectations of a true 'World's best batsman versus the enigmatic English quick' duel were dashed to the ground with Virat blanking Jimmy out comprehensively, without showing the least sign of worry.

In Wankhede, Moeen Ali bowled more overs than England's leading pacer and that too to good effect, despite India plundering tons of runs powered by Kohli’s thunderous double hundred. That Anderson bowled 20 without a single wicket speaks as to how he has fared on the statistical side of affairs.

Bowling 20 overs in Mumbai meant that Anderson’s was an underwhelming lot, by his usual fiery standards. Rewind the clock to Mohali. Truth be told, nothing much changes. Bowling 21 overs in the first innings and 3 in the other, he was helpless and a bit surprised to face the sword-like willow of Ashwin and Jadeja, again going wicket-less in his 24 overs.

In light of such listless performances, his comments against Virat Kohli, where he spoke of Indian tracks 'hiding' the shortcomings in his batting are understandable, but needless and indicative of incessant frustration. You only realize the extent of Anderson's problems in the sub-continent when you clock that he has gone wicket-less for 44 overs, while he performed well in Vizag with 4 wickets in all.

Anderson's problems in 2016 aren't glaring but indicative of lackluster form

For any bowler, a tally of 467 Test wickets commands more than enough respect. Moreover, his 21 five-fors indicate he is a supremo of pace bowling for all intents and purposes. But perhaps Anderson failed to take cognizance of the fact that defeating Kohli's India in India would take more than verbals, mind-games and excuses. The post-Mumbai outburst didn't help his or the English cause.

Overall, this has been the least productive year for Anderson where, despite picking 41 wickets from 394 overs with 3 five-fors, he has gone low as compared to his 2014 and 2015 efforts, that yielded 86 wickets from 723 overs at a better average of 22, as compared to 2016's 24. Moreover, by his own miserly standards, this is the first time in last 3 years that Anderson has 'leaked' runs, going for nearly 3 runs an over.

You can do better, Jimmy

In a year where England's opposition shone, including Bangladesh, there are few positives around the English as they play the final Test in Chennai. Their problems of holding on to an end as wickets tumble at the other have only compounded the emotional drain experienced by the premier fast bowling machinery that includes Broad, Woakes and Ball, who haven't yet made headlines in India.

At a time when captain Cook's own captaincy seems to be under the glaring British lens for an assessment due to their hapless India outing, much more was expected from a seasoned campaigner like Anderson. We've seen how he has evolved as a cricketer, reaching the highs in his career whilst defending England in England from dominant batsmen year after year. But don't you expect much emotional talk from an experienced campaigner, other than a shudder in despair. You certainly don’t expect him to earning himself some self-degradation.

So Jimmy, the world knows you have got what it takes to be the best you can be. But you may want to admit that 2016 has been Virat's year, where he's averaged 80 in Tests and scored over 1000 runs.

But what hurts most is that Kohli found in you a better timer; in the sense that you have chosen to exit the Test series immediately post the Mumbai horror faced by your side.

That must be a sore feeling, innit Jimmy?


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