Stats: James Anderson - A case of sour grapes
James Anderson recently said that Virat Kohli's flaws have been hidden by home conditions.
Disclaimer: The following article is the opinion of the author and does not reflect that of Sportskeeda
When the going gets tough, the tough get going and when the going gets tough, the losers get chirping. After England’s Test series loss against India, it was not surprising to see James Anderson taking a dig at Virat Kohli’s failure in India’s tour of England in 2014. No one can deny that Virat Kohli failed in that tour and the fifth and sixth stump line of English bowlers bothered him but bringing that now when the Indian captain has decimated the English bowlers is a classic example of sour grapes.
Every cricket expert knows that Virat Kohli has changed his stance to negate the fifth and sixth stump line that consistently bothered him. One thing about Kohli that makes him great is that he admits his flaws and improves his technique to remove it from his game, unlike some bowlers who hide their inefficiencies by bringing up old stats of batsmen.
Let us now focus on the spearhead of the English bowling attack, James Anderson, who called out the ‘technical flaw’ of Virat Kohli and analyse what has he done to remove his own flaws.
Anderson is the highest wicket taker in Test cricket for England, but a quick look at his performance in this series, and he seemed nothing more than another ordinary bowler. He took just 4 wickets in 3 test matches whereas India’s Mohammed Shami picked up 10 wickets in the same conditions in the same number of matches.
It seems Anderson didn't do much to iron out his own flaws of bowling in subcontinent pitches but as good hosts, we shall give him the benefit of doubt since he is 34 years of age and is marred by injuries, and hence must not have got time to iron out his flaws for this series.
He has had a long career spanning 13 years and has had a successful Test career, becoming one of the modern bowling greats. The Englishman has picked up 467 wickets in 122 matches at an average of 28.50, but a great bowler performs well irrespective of conditions. So let us see how Anderson fares in different conditions.
Anderson’s performance in seamer friendly pitches: Average
In New Zealand, where conditions are favourable for swing bowlers like Anderson, he has taken 18 wickets in 5 Test matches at an average of 36.27. Across the Tasman Sea in Australia, the Lancashire bowler has taken 43 wickets in 13 Test matches at an average of 38.44. In South Africa, again, conditions which suit bowlers like him, he has taken 25 wickets in 8 Test matches at an average of 39.92.
Going by these stats, it isn’t very impressive for England’s leading wicket taker in the backyard of fast bowlers, at best it can be considered as average performances.
In not so great conditions for fast bowlers, like in India, he has picked up 26 wickets in 10 Test matches at an average of 33.46, while in Sri Lanka, his record is 11 wickets in 4 matches at an average of 40.72. Again, nothing impressive here too.
Brilliant in home conditions
What is impressive is his performance at home, in England, where he has 296 wickets in 69 matches at a staggering average of 25.63.
He has 21 5-wicket hauls, out of which 17 have come in England and out of his three 10-wicket hauls, none have come outside England. The stats show that Anderson is an incredibly gifted bowler, capable of picking wickets at home, but away from the comforts of home conditions, the fast bowler’s record is average, at best.
The aim of dissecting the performance of James Anderson is not to put him down. He is one of the best bowlers of his generation and it takes great skill to swing the ball both ways or to make the ball reverse, which Anderson does consistently.
But the point here is to show that everyone needs to improve somewhere. Some players have to a great way to go, while others have smaller flaws. So, there is no point referring to a particular past statistic to bring Virat Kohli down.
It is worth noting that Virat Kohli has improved leaps and bounds since that 2014 tour and has become one of the best batsmen in the world. Barring performances in England in Test matches, the Indian captain has performed admirably everywhere and the best bowlers of his generation have found it difficult to outfox him.
Whether Kohli succeeds in England or not will be known only when India travels to England, but what we have learnt recently is that James Anderson has proved that he is a sore loser after his team were outplayed and out-thought comprehensively in this series.
Mr. Anderson, let the ball do the talking.