James Anderson © Getty Images
James Anderson © Getty Images

The ball shapes away, beats the outside edge, and rests into the gloves of wicketkeeper. The ball pierces batsman’s defence, misses the stumps by a whisker, and rests into the gloves of wicketkeeper.

The slip fielders shout in disgust. Few of them place their hands on their heads, thinking how the batsman survived.

The wicketkeeper hates the situation. He constantly has to stretch to his right, to his left. He has already bruised his elbows. He cannot do this anymore, begging to end his misery.

The crowd towards deep square-leg and deep point curse themselves for choosing the wrong seats. Somewhere near the sight screen would have been nicer, lads. They cannot see the movement off the seam.

The batsmen pray for the sun to come out. Once that happens, the swing will marginally fade and the chances of survival would increase.

The umpires hope for an easy decision. They thank the heavens for DRS, their new best friend.

The commentators laugh, for they have exhausted their vocabulary. The ball has beaten the batsmen so many times they do not have enough words to narrate the happenings.

The players waiting in the dressing-room wish they do not have to bat soon. If the time comes, may the bowler be out of the attack, they think.

James Anderson has been making everyone’s life difficult for almost decade and a half, for 28,149 deliveries.

Anderson has been running in hard, bending his back, twitching his ankles, jerking his knees, stretching his arms, twirling his wrist, and swinging the ball. He has been doing so for 28,149 times to waltz to glory.

**

Such is the swing that it gives an impression that Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell are trying their best to edge the ball, that they cannot reach the arc.

The crowd, commentators, wicketkeeper, slip fielders are eager for the edge, for that one moment to be finally scripted.

The umpire hopes he does not turn down a right decision, and no batsman wants to be remembered as Anderson’s 500th victim.

Anderson seldom sledges, but he is quite absurdly inexpressive. You do not feel the heat. Like the slip fielders, he does not squeal in frustration. He is uncharacteristically cool for a fast bowler. He patiently waits for the moment.

He goes back to his mark, starts his short run-up, and does what he has been doing for 28,149 deliveries.

The crowd rises and roars and claps. The wicketkeeper stoops low and as do the slip fielders. Brathwaite, the batsman on strike, takes guard. Umpire positions himself.

Anderson runs in hard, bends his back, twitches his ankles, jerks his knees, stretches his arms, twirls his wrist, swings the ball for the 28,150th time, and waltzes to glory, to history, to wicket No. 500.

The ball skids off the surface and through Brathwaite’s defence. Anderson did not want another edge. He instead targets the timber.

The seam wobbles a bit, but it flows like a serene lake — calm and tranquil. And there goes Anderson running towards backward-point, with his both hands up in jubilation, while his teammates flock around him to celebrate the moment that saw the first Englishman to 500 wickets.

The umpire heaves a sigh, and Brathwaite will be remembered as Anderson’s 500th victim.

**

The ball with which Anderson chronicled to a new high then lost its seam, and the umpires had to change it when it was only 4-over old. However, it was a mere coincidence that the seam that swung Anderson’s fortunes prematurely wore off.

Maybe the ball did not want to lose its shine, that now it will sit the brightest in Anderson’s board of memorabilia.