The More Things Change...

In a performance which, in the field anyway, went beyond the realms of mere competence and into those of outright brilliance, James Anderson was England's stand-out player.

It was time. He's had an uneasy few months in the one-day game, omitted entirely from the T20 triumph in the Caribbean and intermittently expensive in the ODIs against Australia and Bangladesh. But he remains a bowler of talent, ingenuity and skill, best suited to the rhythms and attacking imperatives of the five-day game, especially when the conditions weigh as heavily in his favour as they did at the weekend.

As Vic Marks has written, he's the best exponent of genuine swing England have had since the heyday of the young Ian Botham, who, for anyone too young to remember him at his best, could really, really bowl. From visual memory (no speed guns then), Botham wasn't as quick as Anderson usually is, although, when riled by a batsman, an umpire, an Australian or any combination thereof (which was often) he could really charge in. Though attacking by nature Botham at his best probably had a slightly more consistent command of line and length than Anderson, reflective of the era in which he played and a parsimonious Westcountry cricket education at the hands of Tom Cartwright.

Plus ca Change. For Ian Botham at Lord's, June 1978, knocking over a range of hapless Pakistani batsmen like so many skittles, read Anderson at Trent Bridge, August 2010.

But sterner challenges, presented by the batsmen, pitches, cricket balls and climate of Australia, lie ahead.

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