James Anderson’s calf injury left England exposed in the first Test of the 2019 Ashes Series, suffering a 251-run defeat at the hands of Australia at Edgbaston Stadium. The 37-year-old could only manage four overs of Australia’s first innings before suffering a reoccurrence of the problem that had ruled him out of action of the only Test against Ireland. Without him, the Three Lions had bowled Australia out for 284, although they had reduced them to 122-8 before Steve Smith came to the fore.
As is often the case, Stuart Broad rose to the occasion without his partner at the other end, although he alone could not carry England in the second innings as Smith loomed large to carry the Aussies to a match-winning total. England missed the accuracy and precision of the most potent fast bowler in Test match history in Australia’s second innings. Anderson has averaged 22.02 for his 44 wickets at Edgbaston, highlighting the prowess in Birmingham. England will also miss his 100 wickets at an average 23.89 at the home of cricket, Lord’s.
No bowling tandem in history has been as successful as Anderson and Broad. The pair have taken over 1000 wickets between them since 2007, and have been hailed by former greats of the game, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, for their longevity. They have been outstanding all over the world in all conditions, although Australia has been an issue at times for both players, raising doubts about whether they could be considered the greatest duo of all time.
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Anderson’s Test match average of 26.94 rockets up to 35.43 for matches only in Australia. The 37-year-old has impressed at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and boasts solid statistics at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the Adelaide Oval. However, Brisbane has broken his back on many occasions, taking only seven wickets at an average of 75.14 at the Gabba, although a lot of the damage was done in 2006 in the early stages of his career.
Broad has had similar issues as his average in England of 26.79 jumps up by 11 runs in Australia. Unlike Anderson he has thrived at the Gabba, taking 12 wickets at an average of 24.58, while he also has a good record at the MCG. However, his averages began to rise into the stratosphere at the Adelaide Oval and the SCG, but his worse venue was the WACA, taking only three wickets at an average of 80.66. They’re not the only bowlers to have struggled to adapt to Australian conditions where the disciplines of line and length with seam and swing are replaced by pace and bounce.
Anderson and Broad will likely not be part of the England squad as a tandem for the next Ashes series in Australia. Their legacies will remain intact for conditions in England, but a dominant series has evaded them in their careers. Whether they will affect their standing among the greats of all-time remains to be seen and can only be judged once they’ve ended their illustrious careers.
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