James Anderson has played almost two decades’ worth of Test cricket, but the England seamer ranks Monday’s famous win over Pakistan as a contender for the very best he has experienced.
Only Indian great Sachin Tendulkar has won more caps at the highest level than the 40-year-old pace bowler, who has celebrated many highs and endured a variety of lows since his debut in 2003.
But England have rarely had to work harder to claim a result than over the past five days on a desperately lifeless Rawalpindi surface that would have delivered an inevitable draw without the huge reserves of ambition and graft the tourists poured into it.
England scored their runs at an astonishing rate – 6.50 in the first innings and 7.36 in the second – before a relentless bowling performance justified Ben Stokes’ bold declaration.
Anderson was in the thick of things in his first Test outing on Pakistani soil, claiming four for 36 in the fourth innings including two late scalps as bad light threatened to halt the victory push in its tracks.
Asked if he had seen anything like it before, Anderson told Sky Sports: “I don’t think I have actually. It’s probably one of the best wins I’ve been involved in, if not the best.
“On a pitch like that, to play the way we did, to score runs at the rate we did, we gave ourselves a chance to get the result.
“It was an unbelievable effort from everyone. We knew it was going to be difficult, it just feels like with Ben and Brendon (McCullum, head coach), their mantra is ‘we’ve got to take wickets’. We look to take wickets all the time.
“We knew it was a big push, we dug deep to get anything out of that wicket.”
Anderson hailed the unity and spirit of a three-man seam attack consisting of himself, Ollie Robinson and Stokes, adding: “I think we all kept each other going. At times each of us was tired and one of us would pick the other up. We managed to get through some long spells.
“It’s nice to have the win but I don’t think tomorrow will feel great for me. It was a long five days.”
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