Ryan Sidebottom has heaped praise on both Jimmy Anderson and captain Joe Root following England’s surprise 227-run win over India in the First Test in Chennai. Anderson bowled a magnificent over to dismiss both Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane on the final day to ensure that Root’s first innings knock of 218 came in a winning cause.
And the former Yorkshire and England seamer has hailed the skipper’s coolness in delivering on a milestone occasion, telling The Sportsman: “The pressure that surrounded Joe Root and the 100th Test match, everyone patting him on the back and saying well done, to put that to one side and go out there and perform how he did, he was just imperious; it was beautiful to watch wasn’t it?
“He built his innings and the team, all in all, were hugely confident after Sri Lanka. It was an awesome five days of Test cricket. I think to win Test matches, it is not just about scoreboard pressure, it is about the quartet, the seam bowlers as a unit, performing together and they have done that brilliantly.
“Joe Root’s captaincy was fantastic, he operated the seamers from one end and the spinners from the other. His field placing, I think in terms of captaincy he is growing with his influence on the team.”
If Root was the main course, Anderson was the sumptuous dessert as he took three wickets for just 17 runs in the second innings, with two coming in his almost perfect over, while Jack Leach ended with 4-76.
Gill and Virat Kohli were just beginning to put the pressure on England in the middle when Anderson took centre stage. The 38-year-old dismissed Gill with his second ball, leaving the stumps flying through the air, while his fourth ball followed the same trajectory as Rahane survived an LBW appeal when he really shouldn’t have. His fifth ball left no room for doubt as Rahane’s stumps suffered the same fate as Gill’s had just minutes before. And Sidebottom was left as thrilled as the rest of us after watching those six deliveries.
“The old GOAT Jimmy Anderson was stunning wasn’t he? All that reverse swing, there is still life in the old dog yet!”
With the next Test taking place on Saturday in the same stadium, Sidebottom thinks England will fancy their chances of taking a 2-0 lead in the series.
“It is a quick turnaround, all the batsmen are looking in decent form now, they’ve had time in the middle, the spinners again are still inexperienced but they've bowled brilliantly in Sri Lanka and in the first Test. I think [the quick turnaround] will help England.
“The only thing that will change is maybe the wicket, will India change the wicket and play seamers and leave a little bit more grass on? Or will they go for a bigger turner from ball one? We will have to wait and see but India need a response because England looked comfortable, they really did. They'll want to get out there and get playing again.”
Having predicted a 3-1 series win for India before a ball was bowled, the man with 79 Test wickets to his name now wants to change his mind after that incredible opening performance from England.
“For all the pundits out there, don't listen to me!” he laughs. “India are so strong at home, that was my head saying ‘they are so confident, they've not lost many Test matches in many years on home soil, England are notoriously very slow starters.’
“England are growing in confidence, and I’d like to change my 3-1 India prediction to 3-1 England! We will see, England still need to play well, they can’t rest on their laurels, but they are in a great position having got off to a fine start.”