James Anderson turned in a game-changing solo performance on day one of the first Test in Barbados but remains convinced there is plenty of life in his partnership with Stuart Broad.
Anderson was in exemplary form as he dragged England back into contention against the West Indies, taking four wickets in the evening session as the hosts slipped from 174 for three to 264 for eight.
His second success of the day did not just kick-start a decisive momentum switch with the second new ball, it also took Anderson and Broad’s combined tally to 1,000 in Test cricket.
That the moment came while Broad watched on from the balcony, omitted in favour of Sam Curran for the third time in four matches, was slightly poignant but Anderson expects the pair to enjoy plenty more good times together.
“It makes you feel old,” was the initial assessment of the weary 36-year-old reflecting on the latest milestone in a career overloaded of them.
“I’ve just bowled 24 overs in a day and I’m knackered. But we’ve played for a long time together and it’s amazing to think we’ve taken that many wickets.
“It’s shame that Stuart wasn’t out there but hopefully he’ll get a go at some stage on this tour. We are still pretty hungry to play and we’ve all seen the amount of work Stuart has put in. I’ve loved it today… while we’re enjoying it who knows how many we can take.”
That Anderson’s enduring brilliance, rather than Broad’s omission, dominated discussions at stumps might have been a relief to captain Joe Root and head coach Trevor Bayliss.
Had Shai Hope or Roston Chase turned their half-centuries into something more substantial hard questions would surely have been posed, particularly with the hosts choosing all four frontline seamers.
“Of course it causes conversation, it’s a massive decision,” reflected Anderson.
“You’ve got one guy who’s played 124 Tests but you have a really talented all-rounder (in Curran) and in that respect it shows how strong our squad is. There will be difficult decisions as this team improves.
“It’s tough for Joe but that’s why he gets paid the big bucks.”
The Windies will rely on the ebullient Guyanese Shimron Hetmyer to add more vital runs on day two, the 22-year resuming on 56 after Jos Buttler dropped him off Anderson with just three to his name.
Whether or not he succeeds, Chase thinks his side might already be in a reasonable position on a pitch he expects to deteriorate.
“I think it’s a good score, the wicket was doing a bit at the end so we’ll see how it plays in the coming days,” he said.
“The first day is always slow at the Kensington Oval and it quickens up on days two and three. Four and five are unpredictable, I can’t say if it will bounce or keep low.
“I think if the variable bounce comes into play it will be harder to play fast bowling than spin because it’s harder to adjust with quicker bowling. We’ll work with what we have.”