Jonathan Agnew: James Anderson & Stuart Broad show gulf in class
James Anderson and Stuart Broad produced a masterclass of new-ball bowling as England picked up where they left off in Southampton by dominating the first day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
At the toss, I suggested to Alastair Cook that it wasn't a bad one to lose and he rather dismissed the idea, insisting England would have preferred to bat.
But I had a feeling the ball would swing, and so it proved as Broad and Anderson took full advantage of muggy, overcast conditions to blow away India's top order and bowl them out for 152. The hosts closed on 113-3, with Ian Bell 45 not out.
The conditions were tailor-made for Anderson, who bowled beautifully at a venue that hasn't been one of his happy hunting grounds.
If you ever wanted to show an aspiring fast bowler an example of a perfect outswinger then his dismissal of Murali Vijay was it.
It was full, swinging, drew the batsman slightly forward and was caught at first slip - sheer perfection.
Anderson's most remarkable attribute is his ability to swing the new ball both ways. That is a very rare skill that requires serious talent.
|Best fielder-bowler combinations for England|
|24 - c AN Cook b JM Anderson|
|22 - c IT Botham b RGD Willis|
|21 - c GP Swann b JM Anderson|
Ian Botham was a big swing bowler but he always bowled outswingers with the new ball. Anderson seems to be able to deliver inswingers at will, beautifully disguised, and at a decent pace.
He was ably assisted, as he so often is, by Broad, who removed Gautam Gambhir and Cheteshwar Pujara with the new ball and cashed in at the end to finish with figures of 6-25.
Broad later confirmed he will undergo knee surgery later in the summer, which is the right decision to resolve a long-standing problem and ensure he is fit for the World Cup and Ashes next year.
At their brilliant best, Anderson and Broad set a standard that England's other bowlers must aspire to. There is a gulf in class between England's opening pair and the rest of the attack, and it showed.
While every ball from Anderson or Broad presented a trial for the batsman, Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan did not carry anywhere near the same level of threat. Woakes took 0-43 off 10 overs, and Jordan 1-27 off nine.
That is not a criticism. Neither Woakes nor Jordan have anywhere near the experience of England's frontline duo and both have the raw ingredients to become top international bowlers.
But for England to return to the top of the tree in Test cricket they need their change bowlers to be weighing in.
Woakes is disciplined in his line and length, but Jordan is spraying the ball around a bit too much.
He has an ungainly run-up in which he looks as if he is running through quicksand before sending the ball down in a sudden explosion of violence.
He just needs to smooth it out and get some momentum into his run-up and the action will follow.
|James Anderson to Virat Kohli in this series|
India's total would have been far lower without captain Mahendra Dhoni's battling 71. After choosing to bat and seeing his team slump to 8-4, the India skipper clearly felt he had a point to prove and he got stuck in, took a few blows on the body and at least ensured his team managed a recovery of sorts.
When England replied with the bat, both openers fell cheaply. Cook will be furious with himself for getting out to a hook shot, while Sam Robson was bowled shouldering arms.
In isolation, it looks a poor dismissal, but he was set up by some outswingers from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and fell to a well-disguised inswinger, so it was a fine piece of bowling.
However, the jury is still out on Robson. He seems to be making more of an effort to get forward, but he is still getting squared up, and it is worrying to see an opener with such clear technical flaws.
I expect England to give him the rest of the series, but he may need a big innings to secure his place beyond that.