James Anderson is cherishing the satisfaction of having Test wickets against his name again.
England’s all-time leading wicket-taker had to work mighty hard for three more on day one of the second Test against India in Visakhapatnam, where hundreds from home captain Virat Kohli (151 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (119) helped the hosts to a stumps total of 317 for four.
But on his return from three months out recovering from a stress fracture in his bowling arm there was elation, as well as inevitably tired and aching limbs, as he finished with three for 44.
It was Anderson who broke Kohli and Pujara’s double-century stand when the latter edged an attempted cut at him behind and he was also back to strike again with the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane in his one over with the second new ball.
The rewards for Anderson – who defied most forecasts about how long it would take him to play Test cricket again – were hard-earned, and could not wrest the advantage from India.
But he said: “It was great to be back. I’ve missed it; I’ve missed playing and taking wickets.
“That sort of feeling you can’t get in any other walk of life – at least I struggle with it – so to get amongst it and get some wickets meant a lot.”
It has been a personal triumph to be back on the field.
“I’ve spent the last two months working really hard to get back into the side,” added the 34-year-old. “It’s been frustrating at times, but it’s been worth it. Getting back out there with the lads was a great feeling in itself, but to get a few wickets made it even better.” Anderson’s first wicket was that of opener Murali Vijay, who was unable to deal with a bouncer and gloved a catch to third slip.
The seamer himself never doubted he would return at some point in this series, even if others were not always so sure.
“I always thought I would get out here for some part of it, but it was a surprise to a lot of people I got out here this early,” he added.
“They thought it would take time to get back to full pace. But it took me less time.”
He felt no soreness in his shoulder at all and instead England’s concerns are focused on his pace partner Stuart Broad, who was suffering from pain in his right foot and a nasty cut to his right wrist sustained in the opening Test in Rajkot and then aggravated in making a diving stop here.
Anderson said: “Stuart has been in the wars. He’s got a bit of a foot problem, and a graze as well on his arm, so he’s nursing those at the moment in the dressing room.
“He did really well to get through the day.
“We don’t know how serious his foot is.”
England do already know they are in a tough spot in this match, with plenty of runs already on the board against them and the pitch expected to deteriorate.
Pujara said: “We’re expecting it to turn a bit more than Rajkot. So if we bat well, then we’ll see what it’s like on day three.”
Pujara, who has now hit hundreds in three consecutive Tests, said: “I just wanted to continue the form, especially when we lost a couple of wickets early on we needed to build a partnership and the way Virat batted we did a very good partnership.”