England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow had the best seat in the house for James Anderson’s Lord’s masterclass and expects the seamer to push for a prestigious record at another happy hunting ground this week.
The 36-year-old continues to defy his years, turning in one of the best performances of his career in the second Test demolition of India with match figures of nine for 43, while also becoming the first player to take 100 wickets at Lord’s.
His control of the swinging ball has arguably never been better and, with no discernible drop in pace and recent shoulder problems seemingly at an end, nobody in the England set-up is putting a timescale on his eventual exit.
Instead of plotting retirement he heads to Nottingham this week just 10 wickets behind Australian great Glenn McGrath, the most prolific pace bowler in history with 563 scalps.
“Just take that last game at Lord’s…nine wickets for 43 runs. There’s no reason he can’t keep going, body permitting,” said Bairstow.
“His stats are speaking for themselves and there’s potential for him to break every record going for a seamer, I don’t think he’s too far off.”
Anderson will expect to make inroads into McGrath’s slim lead when the third Test begins on Saturday.
The Lancastrian already has 60 scalps at Trent Bridge – 19 more than closest challenger Alec Bedser – and Bairstow is looking forward to watching a master at work again.
“It’s great fun, you’re always in the game,” he said.
“It’s fun until he throws the big inducker in and you’re not expecting it so it goes for four byes.
“I think a lot of batsmen would like to know which way the ball is swinging when it’s Jimmy but I don’t think he gives you too many clues.
“It’s literally a case of him slightly changing his action and wrist position, he doesn’t drop his left shoulder when he bowls the inswinger like a lot of bowlers tend to do. That’s what makes him so lethal and so dangerous in England.”
Indian batsmen may be crossing their fingers for an end to their travails against Anderson and his new-ball partner Stuart Broad, whose career-best figures of eight for 15 in the Ashes came at his home venue, but Bairstow offered no succour.
“You can’t tell when it’s going to wobble and when it’s not, but Trent Bridge is notoriously somewhere it does wobble,” he said.
“Both Jimmy and Stuart will be licking their lips when it comes to the next Test.
“They’ve got the skills to move the ball both ways against all of their batsmen and what a skill that is to have in the armoury.”
India’s batting woes against the moving ball for three successive innings have seen renewed debate about how to balance the playing field for away sides.
There are advocates for abandoning the toss in favour of an automatic away prerogative, but Bairstow sees the tilted scales as a necessary part of life on the road.
“The toss is something that’s in the game since it started,” he said.
“You’ve got to have a bit of home advantage. When we go to other places around the world they ask us to play in their home conditions that are more favourable to their side.
“That’s the excitement of going on tour.”