James Anderson joins 300 club, but England toil

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James Anderson joined Test cricket’s elite 300 club, on a tough day otherwise for England against New Zealand at Lord’s.

Kiwi opener Peter Fulton was Anderson’s 300th wicket – making him only the fourth Englishman to reach the landmark alongside Fred Trueman, Bob Willis and Ian Botham. When Anderson’s great friend Graeme Swann held on to the catch low at second slip to complete Fulton’s dismissal, New Zealand were seven for two on day two of the first Investec Test.

But the celebrations proved fleeting as Ross Taylor took over with a fluent 66 out of 153 for four in reply to England’s ponderous 232 all out.

The rationale on Thursday night, after England had closed on 160 for four, was that, on this slow pitch and outfield, their patience would pay off with a dominant total. But after they lost their last six wickets for 40 to the swing of Tim Southee (four for 58) and Neil Wagner (three for 70), the onus was on them to try to take control with the ball instead. Anderson began the Test with 298 career wickets. His first success came with the final ball of his opening over, finding a little extra bounce to have opener Hamish Rutherford caught at first slip by Alastair Cook. He struck again, for the 300th time, when he found Fulton’s outside-edge and Swann was safe with a low catch.

In perfect conditions for England’s seam attack, though, Taylor launched a successful counter-attack either side of tea. He hit 13 fours from 72 balls, mainly off the back foot through the off-side, recording the first half-century of the match and sharing the first 50 stand, too, with sheet-anchor Kane Williamson.

It was not until Anderson (three for 32) returned for his fourth spell that he made it 301 with just his second delivery when he beat Taylor’s forward push to pin him lbw.

With spin already for Swann at the other end, Anderson would have got rid of Williamson’s limpet presence for 23 too had Matt Prior held a one-handed chance. But the number three survived – as he did again four runs later, when Steven Finn found the thinnest of edges down the leg-side only for Steve Davis to give the batsman not out.

Even after Dean Brownlie went lbw to Finn before the close, the advantage was still with the tourists. It was Southee’s two wickets in successive balls yesterday morning which had first seized the initiative, and England’s collapse took hold as they lost four for nine runs. Top-scorer Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root had come through the initial threat of the second new ball and there were no serious alarms up to morning drinks. But, within another half-hour, slow scoring was decidedly no longer England’s principal problem.

First, Root’s prolific form – almost 700 first-class runs this summer in only five attempts – was interrupted by a mode of dismissal every batsman dreads, caught-behind down the leg-side. If Southee had a little fortune on his side then, it was skill not luck that did for next man Prior. The England wicketkeeper was gone in the blink of an eye when Southee angled one in to strike Prior on the pad first ball.

Stuart Broad denied Southee a hat-trick but he then was hit in front as Wagner swung another up the slope. Wagner also accounted for Swann, then Bairstow lost Finn lbw pushing forward to Southee, and the young Yorkshireman himself drilled a return catch back to be last out to Southee.