London: James Anderson may now be ranked as the world’s top bowler but the England great was happy to acknowledge how watching India’s Zaheer Khan had helped him reach the summit ahead of the fourth Test against Pakistan at The Oval.
Conventional or reverse swing where a ball deviates late in flight is one of the most difficult types of bowling to face, particularly if the bowler is capable, as Anderson is, of deliveries in excess of 80mph.
Batsmen can get some idea of what to expect if they can see which is the shiny side of the ball, as this will offer a clue as to whether the swing will be away from or towards their stumps.
However, that becomes a far tougher task if the bowler is capable of keeping the ball hidden from view until the moment of delivery.
It was a skill left-arm paceman Zaheer demonstrated to good effect during India’s 1-0 success in the three-match Pataudi Trophy Test campaign in England in 2007 and Anderson, who was on the opposite side, took note.
Asked at an Oval event staged by England-Pakistan series sponsors Investec where he had got the idea of hiding the ball from, Anderson said Tuesday: “From Zaheer Khan. We found it really difficult to face.”
The 32-year-old Lancastrian is England’s all-time leading most successful Test bowler with 462 wickets in 118 matches at an average of 28.17 apiece.
Anderson also heads into Thursday’s series finale against Pakistan at The Oval back on top of the International Cricket Council’s bowler rankings after overtaking India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin at the summit following England’s 141-run win in the third match Test at Edgbaston last week.
If England win in south London to take the four-match series 3-1, they could find themselves back on top of the world Test rankings for the first time since 2012 if other results go their way.