James Anderson in his bowling stride © Getty Images (File Photo)
James Anderson in his bowling stride © Getty Images (File Photo)

Former Australia pace bowler Glenn McGrath reckons that the upcoming Test series between India and England will depend upon how Virat Kohli and his team face up to the swing and seam of James Anderson.

“Anderson is going to be a big player. It is how the Indian batsmen face his swing and bowling in English conditions. If they can get on top of Anderson, that is going to make a big difference for them. I think for them he is definitely going to be the key,” McGrath told reporters.

Anderson’s overall record against India:
M I O M R W BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 5W/I 10W/M
22 42 822.3 208 2423 86 5/42 7/77 28.17 2.94 57.3 3 0

Anderson’s record against India is good. His average stands at 28.17 with a decent strike rate of 57.3 over 22 Tests. That record gets slightly better in England, where he has enjoyed more success due to the seaming and swinging conditions that prevailed during India’s last three tours to England in 2007, 2011 and 2014. Anderson has taken 60 wickets at a strike rate of 51.2 over 12 Tests in those series against India as depicted below.

Anderson’s record against India in England:
M I O M R W BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 5W/I 10W/M
12 24 512.4 137 1553 60 5/42 7/77 25.88 3.02 51.2 3 0

Anderson claimed the wickets of Murali Vijay, Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan with more regularity than those of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the 2014 Test series. The Indian top order definitely needs to be wary of him.

Batsman Matches Dismissals bowled caught c wk lbw hw Mat/Dis
V Kohli 5 4 0 3 1 0 0 1.25
M Vijay 5 4 0 1 1 2 0 1.25
S Dhawan 3 3 0 2 1 0 0 1
CA Pujara 5 2 0 1 1 0 0 2.5
AM Rahane 5 1 0 1 0 0 0 5
KD Karthik 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 3

On being asked about Kohli’s batting against Anderson, McGrath said it was time the India captain scored in England. “For Virat, he has done everywhere else, but in England… he is a quality player without a doubt, a class act, has got all the shots,” said Test cricket’s most successful pacer.

“He is quite aggressive and not a timid player. It is time he shows that he can score runs in English conditions too. It is a little bit tougher with the ball moving around. Australia used to be quick, bouncy whereas in England it is seam movement. If he can adapt and adjust to the conditions, he can score. When he is playing well he is as good as anyone going around.”

McGrath, who is director of coaching at MRF Pace Foundation, further said that though the Indian bowlers have been doing well in recent times, batting remains their strength.

“It is going to be interesting. I think India started really well in England, obviously it is in the ODIs and T20s. The batting line-up has always been their strength. Just heard about injuries to (Jasprit) Bumrah and Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar). So it will be interesting to see their bowling line-up, to see who comes in and takes the load. In recent times they have been bowling really well. Injuries do happen, it is going to make it a little tougher. But their strength is their batting,” he stated.

He reckoned that though the spinners have done well for India and would have a role to play in England, the fast bowlers would be crucial. “Spinners have done well for India. Shane Warne loved bowling there. He always said if it seamed, it will turn. In English conditions it does seam a bit and Warne has had success there. India is going to need their bowlers, their spinners firing if they have to win the series.”

“Having two spinners in the line-up, if that is going to be the best bowling attack it is fine. I am interested to see who are bowlers that they have. (Umesh) Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami, who’s your backup quicks going in. With Bhuvi and Bumrah out, it creates a bit of a hole. The first Test is going to be pretty important.”

McGrath also spoke about impact Ishant Sharma‘s experience makes. “He has got a lot of experience. And, that sort of makes a big difference when you know how to get wickets. He is not probably bowling as quick as when he first started. Have to see if he has the same wicket-taking potential as what he had when he first started. Yadav has got a bit of pace. They need him for the whole series.”