ENGLAND captain Alastair Cook refuted suggestions his team are over-reliant on bowler James Anderson, after the Lancastrian claimed the second 10-wicket haul of his Test career to see off Australia by 14 runs in a nail-biting finish to the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.
The tourists began the day six wickets down, needing 137 more runs to win and, once Anderson had dismissed Ashton Agar (14), Mitchell Starc (1) and Peter Siddle (11) during an energy-sapping 13-over spell in the first session, England seemed certain to record their third straight victory over Australia.
However, an astonishing 65-run final-wicket partnership between Brad Haddin (71) and James Pattinson (25 not out) made for a grandstand finish until Anderson wrapped up the match with the 50th Ashes dismissal of his career, after Haddin was adjudged to have edged a delivery through to wicketkeeper Matt Prior, following a review to the third umpire.
While Anderson shone throughout the match, finishing with figures of 10-158, fellow seamers Steven Finn and Stuart Broad claimed only five wickets between them. And, when Anderson left the field for a short time due to a suspected groin injury, England looked unlikely to make the required breakthrough without him.
Yet Cook believes England still possess enough firepower to win matches should Anderson have an uncharacteristic off-day this summer.
“Broad and Finn have done outstandingly well for us over a huge amount of time, but it just happened to be Jimmy’s day and Jimmy’s game,” said Cook. “Jimmy was outstanding. He always wants one more over, though I think 13 was probably quite a lot in that first hour.
“He’s a world-class bowler and you sometimes use him in these situations when you know there’s a timeframe. He had an amazing rhythm in this game.”
With Haddin and Agar at the crease, Australia began the morning placed precariously on 174-6.
The tourists proceeded to score at a snail’s pace in the opening 11 overs, adding just 17 runs, before Cook opted to take the new ball.
Five overs later and Anderson made the breakthrough when Agar, promoted to eight in the batting order following his last-man heroics in the first innings, edged to Cook at slip.
The same combination soon removed Starc and, after Cook failed to hold an edge from Siddle off the bowling of Anderson, he redeemed himself spectacularly two overs later to hold a similar shot at full stretch and leave England on the brink of victory.
But when Anderson ended his mammoth bowling spell England’s threat dried up and Haddin hit Finn for 15 in his first over to pass 50 for the 11th time in his Test career.
Finn, who endured a torrid day in the field, let a Haddin sweep slip through his fingers with 26 more runs required for victory, shortly before lunch, to crank up the tension among the sold-out Trent Bridge crowd.
However, Australia’s attempt at an astonishing comeback was ended by Anderson after lunch, with a little help from the decision review system, as England drew first blood in the series.