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James Anderson felt South Africa played into England’s hands by batting
A gloomy outlook at Emirates Old Trafford meant seamers were always likely to enjoy themselves early on.
James Anderson suggested South Africa played into England hands by throwing them the ball in helpful conditions on day one of the second LV= Test.
Having recalled Simon Harmer as a second spinner, Proteas skipper Dean Elgar allowed the make-up of his team to shape his judgement at the toss.
A gloomy outlook at Emirates Old Trafford meant seamers were always likely to enjoy themselves early on, but Elgar opted to bat first anyway in a bid to set up the match for his slow bowlers.
But the gambit backfired as Anderson and Stuart Broad helped themselves to three wickets each as the tourists were rolled over for 151.
England finished on 111 for three in reply, Zak Crawley and Jonny Bairstow sharing an unbeaten stand of 68 to make sure the seamers’ good work did not go to waste.
Anderson, who knows better than most how to get the best out of conditions on his home ground, welcomed Elgar’s decision.
“I didn’t mind it, actually. Pitches here are normally good to bowl on with a new ball, especially early on,” he said.
“The lights were on, it was cloudy…it felt like not the worst toss to lose. As a bowler, when you see it moving around like that, it’s always great.
“We know the weather has been pretty average here this last week so it’s been under cover quite a bit and, although it felt hard on top, there was definitely going to be some moisture in there somewhere.
I thought we were just relentless with our areas after lunch and everyone who bowled, bowled superbly
- James Anderson
“But you still have to bowl well. We just thought of trying to bash away good areas for as long as possible. I thought we were just relentless with our areas after lunch and everyone who bowled, bowled superbly.”
While Anderson retained his usual new-ball duties, Broad was forced to wait after seeing Ollie Robinson deployed first at the Brian Statham End.
It was a rare slip down the pecking order for Broad and one that caught his long-time partner unaware.
“We went out for a bowl literally five minutes before the start and I said ‘are you happy with that end?’. He said ‘I’m not taking the new ball’ and it was the first I knew about it,” said Anderson.
“He bought into it really well though, came on and bowled brilliantly. Robbo bowled great too and could have easily had three or four wickets in that first spell. It just didn’t go for him.”
As well as adapting to his role as first-change seamer, Broad was also on hand to assist Anderson at mid-on. Having just suggested a field change that helped him sucker Harmer in lbw, he followed up with some words of wisdom after Anderson took two wickets in two balls.
“Stuart came over and said ‘when I took my two international Test hat-tricks I just went full and straight’,” Anderson explained with a smile.
“So I was trying to go full and straight but I got my line horribly wrong. I got a bit giddy and probably tried to bowl a bit too quick.”
Jonny Bairstow may have done the lion’s share of the scoring in the fourth-wicket stand that cemented England’s position, but it was Crawley’s hard-work and self-denial during a cautious innings worth 17 in 77 balls that stood out.
“The way he played allowed Johnny to play his natural game, I thought it was a brilliantly intelligent innings from him so far,” Anderson added.
“His output has not been as good as he’d want it to be but today he read the situation brilliantly and played exactly how we needed him to play.”