James Anderson admitted that England were frustrated by an early bad light call on day two of the second Test that prevented them from wrapping up the Pakistan first innings after the tourists were reduced to 223 for nine.
Having started at 12:30pm at Ageas Bowl due to light rain in the morning, the scheduled close was pushed to 7pm to make up for lost time. However, after an early tea was taken due to bad light at 4:20pm and then, after 10 minutes of the resumption, the same call saw play eventually finish for the day with just 40.2 overs possible.
That first pause for bad light on Friday was the first time standing umpires Michael Gough and Richard Kettleborough had taken the players off the field. As per ICC’s Test match playing conditions, that first reading on the light meter is now the standard throughout the match, meaning from now on when it reaches that level play has to be stopped.
It was all the more frustrating given the light appeared no worse than earlier in the day, and no trouble for batsmen or fielders to pick up. For instance, the penultimate ball of the day was charged and nailed over cover for four by Mohammad Rizwan, who remains not out on 60.
“We’re a little bit frustrated we didn’t get a chance to finish them off,” said Anderson. “The light has been gloomy all day and we’ve been lucky to get the play we have. It did feel like the lights were pretty prominent.
“It was gloomy but it’s one of those when it didn’t seem like the batmen were struggling too much. I don’t know what the reading was. Maybe there could be a bit more leeway there. I don’t think we can change the colour of the ball when it gets dark.”
Despite a truncated couple of days that has only seen 86 overs of cricket, there has been enough to satisfy Anderson. After a tough going in the first Test, taking one wicket for 97 across 28 overs in both innings, he has three for 48 from 24 already in this one.
He is also averaging a touch under 85mph – the highest he has registered since 2014 – and the 38-year old is starting to feel like his old self. Something he had hoped for on Monday when he dissipated talk of any imminent retirement.
“I felt a lot better this week both mentally and with the ball,” he said, now with 593 career dismissals. “I had some good chats with some of the players this week and did some good work on my technique as well. I came in with more confidence and the wickets help. It’s just about remembering why we play the game – it is enjoyable when you get it right. I just tried to have a bit more of smile on my face.”
Similarly, he was pleased with the output of his opening partner, Stuart Broad, who also has a trio of wickets to his name. One of them – the first wicket of day two – was the Babar Azam, Pakistan’s biggest hope of a solid first innings score, who was undone with a peach of a delivery that clipped the right-hander’s edge through to Jos Buttler after crafting out a classy 47 that featured nothing but the middle of the bat.
At the time of writing, Broad has 25 wickets at 12.8 this summer, on course to average under 30 with the ball for 11 of the last 12 summers. As Test Match Special statistician pointed out, he has never seen out out with an average under 22.
“It’s not just this summer,” said Anderson on his long-standing teammate and friend. “It goes further back.”
“He’s had a fantastic few years and there’s no reason he can’t carry on like this. He’s bowling fantastically well, you can see there’s a spring in jis step walking around the ground and his fitness levels look fantastic. He’s putting in the hard yards to put the pressure on and going deep in an innings to take the wickets.”