Anderson holds the key to halting Tendulkar and Co

IT’S a measure of how far this England side has progressed in a short space of time that I make them favourites to win a series against the side currently ranked the best in the world.

The depth of India’s batting means England will spend large periods of this series on the back foot and they’ll have to be ready to pounce when conditions are in their favour.

Looking at the forecast ahead of today’s first Test at Lord’s it looks as though the elements will be conducive to swing bowling and in James Anderson England have the finest exponent of that art in world cricket; his performances will go a long way to determining the outcome of this series.

India’s batsmen are streetwise but it doesn’t matter who you are, when you’re facing Anderson, who can move the ball in or out with no discernable change in his action, you will struggle at some point.

Graeme Swann will have his part to play but his impact will be determined by how the seamers perform with the new ball.

Swann is at his best when he’s given a platform to attack from and if India, whose batsmen play spin better than anyone else, don’t lose early wickets the Nottinghamshire twirler will be much less of a threat.

As good as these two teams are, I don’t expect it to be an explosive series but more of a throwback to vintage Test cricket where patience and discipline will be rewarded.

If there’s anybody who embodies those qualities above anyone else it’s Sachin Tendulkar and it would be remiss to preview this series without mention of a player I regard as one of the best, if not the best, batsman of all time.

I’d encourage any aspiring cricketer to pay close attention to the way he conducts himself at the crease – his technique is as close to flawless as you’ll see.

This is the 100th Test between India and England and the 2,000th Test in history with Tendulkar (left) poised one short of a century of international hundreds.

The stage could not be better set for him to achieve what would be an iconic moment in the history of the sport and not even the most patriotic Englishman would begrudge him reaching a quite staggering landmark at the home of cricket.