That was the perfect storm for India. They were on and off all day, and the rain kept spicing up the pitch. Batting was not easy.
But make no mistake: that was brilliant bowling from England. In particular, the swing bowling from Jimmy Anderson and Chris Woakes was world-class. Yes, the conditions helped them. But they nailed their lengths superbly. There was some unplayable stuff in there.
Four years ago at Lord’s, India were confronted with a greentop, only for Anderson and Stuart Broad to bowl too short on the first day and let them off the hook. So credit must go to Joe Root and the bowling coach Chris Silverwood for ensuring that all four of their seamers got their lengths right.
Jimmy Anderson was the England hero as India were bowled out for 107 at Lord’s on Friday
Thirty-six-year-old bowler Anderson took five for 20 and now has 99 Test wickets at Lord’s
6 – Five-wicket hauls at Lord’s for Jimmy Anderson after his 5-20 on Friday. Only Ian Botham has claimed more five-fors at the ground — with eight to his name.
In the past, people have said it’s hard to persuade two blokes with 900-odd Test wickets between them to pitch the ball further up than they are used to. And, in fairness, Anderson and Broad have always been able to point to their excellent records as proof that they know what they’re doing.
But, on the evidence of this game and the last one at Edgbaston, something has changed. England are getting better at assessing the conditions and reacting immediately.
It’s why Anderson was able to bowl Murali Vijay with the fifth ball of the match: he was straight in the groove. And the key to that dismissal was how late it swung. Vijay was aiming to leg because the ball had got three-quarters of the way to him without moving through the air.
Late swing did for Virat Kohli too – but in his instance Woakes made very good use of the crease. He went wider, which persuaded Kohli to aim to leg. When the ball swung at the last minute, it took the outside edge. Top-class bowling.
It was a good example of why I’d have Woakes in my side every time in home Tests. Both Andrew Strauss and Ed Smith have spoken about picking horses for courses, which is fine by me. Pick Woakes in England, and someone with a bit more pace abroad.
If there’s one grumble, it’s a familiar one: the slip catching. The cordon just looks unsettled to me, with new faces and wicketkeepers trying to learn a new skill. Slip catching takes time to learn. You can’t just slot people in.
Chris Woakes also put on a world-class display of swing bowling for England against India
Woakes took two scalps and his Lord’s Test record is now 16 wickets at the low average of 9.93
I’ve said before I’d have Root in my cordon – even though he dropped one – but he obviously prefers to lead the side from mid-off. But at the moment England are having to create more chances than they should in order to bowl a team out.
What was instructive, though, was that on the two occasions Woakes had a catch put down by Jos Buttler at second slip, he took a wicket with his very next ball – and Buttler caught them both.
That said a lot about both players. Woakes isn’t one to let his head drop. He had a quick word with Buttler, but then just got on with the job and nailed the next delivery. And Buttler was able to put his mistakes out of his mind very quickly. There’s a lot of character in this side.
Above all, though, this was a day to praise the bowlers. It was a near-perfect performance, and reminded me of the first morning at Trent Bridge against Australia in 2015. On that occasion, Broad ran through them all by himself. But this was a real team effort.