First test, first day, Lord’s… and you’re Jimmy Anderson | jimmy anderson

First test, first day, Lord’s… and you’re Jimmy Anderson | jimmy anderson

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You stand at the top of your mark. Inhale Exhale. Here we go again. You are at the end of your favorite pavilion. This is the 26th time you’ve played a test at Lord’s. A little while ago you didn’t really know if you could play another one, here or elsewhere, again. You don’t think about that. You can’t think of the first time, a first in Test cricket where you felt numb, a plus that lasted 17 runs largely because there was no thin leg – thank you, Nasser. You don’t think of the first wicket (Mark Vermeulen) or the last (Marcus Harris), or the other 638s.

Don’t you think how you, a shy kid from Burnley, a cricket-mad kid who used to study Shaun Pollock and Peter Martin and copy bits and pieces of their bowling action, ended up here , at the House of Cricket, with all eyes on you. Here, where you took 110 wickets, the scene of your best test figures of seven for 42, your 500th test window – Kraigg Brathwaite, carried away insistently in the fading sunlight on a perfect afternoon.

You used to play as fast as you could, a detachable rapid with frosted tips. You were never really sure at the time, of yourself or your role. If you were trying to hit helmets or toes or somewhere in between. You were told, “Don’t worry about where it’s going, play fast.”

That need, or craving, for speed has finally broken you. Play with your action and destabilize you. Lost years. Your talents interfered with by pace-hungry bowling coaches pitting you against a war with yourself rather than a contest with the batter. Until enough is enough. You will do it your way, just like you did before. Like you did when you were a kid.

You don’t think about the years you’ve spent perfecting your craft. The feel of the ball in your hand. Your wrist cocked, the seam resting in your fingers. The feeling when you release the ball from their tips, sometimes gently like a conjurer revealing a dove, sometimes pronounced, sometimes with a snap, a flourish, turning a key in a lock or crushing a rose.

You don’t think how much it hurts, of course it hurts. You’re 39, it’s not easy and you wouldn’t want it to be. You take pleasure in pain. That moment in the morning when you wake up and you’re tired. Your body hums with a dull ache, you find it almost comforting. Satisfying. The physical signs of a job well done. Maybe you’ll enter that effortless, zen-like state, a feeling of “bliss” that you can sometimes tap into when playing, everything is in sync, “like he’s holding the ball on a string”, they sometimes say . You don’t think about that.

You’ve gone through your plans and know exactly what you’re going to do. The swinger. Your stock ball. The ace in your hand, the delivery from which everything else flows, every plan, every deception. Inswinger, reverse-swinger, off-cutter, leg-cuter, wobble seam, slow ball, knuckleball. You tilt the seam by tiny degrees like a sailor catching a gust of wind, exploiting longitude, latitude and Lancashire us.

You don’t think about it but you know how lucky you are to have played so long, to have remained largely injury-free. You feel like young bowlers falling like dominoes to stress fractures, you’ve been there in the brace for six weeks doing nothing. It’s frustrating, annoying. You came back, so – hopefully – they will.

You don’t think who will share the new ball at Nursery End. It might be Stuart, it might not be. He’s your No. 1 partner, from Sundance to your Butch, but you’ve played with a lot of guys over the years. Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard as well as Darren Gough, James Kirtley, Martin Bicknell, Kabir Ali, Darren Pattinson, Ryan Sidebottom. You don’t think about the fact that you played test cricket with Ed Smith and Rob Key, that you fired your new manager, Brendon McCullum, three times.

Jimmy Anderson celebrates his first Test wicket, Zimbabwe's Mark Vermeulen, at Lord's in 2003.
Jimmy Anderson celebrates his first Test wicket, Zimbabwe’s Mark Vermeulen, at Lord’s in 2003. Photography: Tom Shaw/Getty Images

You don’t think of the other 36,396 times you’ve done this. You just live the next six seconds, 12 steps. A ball.

You can faintly hear the crowd, the “Oh, Jimmy Jimmy” leading to a mournful Jerusalem trill. You’re gone. From small steps to long strides. The wind in your hair, dappled with gray now rather than peroxide. The breeze behind your light but muscular shoulders. A blur of greens, creams and the crowd swirls in a color palette at the peripheries as your vision begins to focus like the rifling on a gun.

Six hundred and forty times you did it led to a wicket, 35,756 times not. You’ve been hit for 17,014 points and hated them all.

Your eyes are fixed loosely on the dough, the crease line, the top of the stump. Your body is in motion and your mind is completely free. You don’t think of anything. You get to the fold, enter your gathering, your action. You think about lifting your last finger from the seam and you let go.

Your head dips, as always with exertion. For a split second you lose the ball as the grass appears, you lift your head back, recalibrate, get back into the flight of the ball you just threw.

You are jimmy anderson. You bowl. That’s what you do.

Support Mondli Khumalo

When it matters, the cricket community rallies together, and right now they’re all with Mondli Khumalo. The former South African Under-19 star remains in a medically induced coma at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, where he has since suffered a fractured skull in an attack in Bridgwater in the early hours of Sunday morning. He had left to celebrate winning his club North Petherton CC earlier on Saturday.

Three times since his admission, Khumalo, 20, has had emergency surgery to remove clots caused by a brain haemorrhage. The last of these came on Tuesday afternoon after a period of relative stability. Khumalo’s agent Rob Humphries and teammate Lloyd Irish have always been by his side. On Tuesday, they were asked more than once to “hang out” with Khumalo, with doctors unable to confirm he would pull through. Luckily it did and remains stable.

The club has create a fundraising page to help pay for Khumalo’s recoverywith Trade Nation pledging to donate £50 for every six and £150 for every grounded ball in Somerset T20’s clash with Glamorgan on Friday night.

#test #day #Lords #youre #Jimmy #Anderson #jimmy #anderson

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