Advantage England with Anderson escaping ban: Steve Harmison
Manchester: Former fast bowler Steve Harmison feels the advantage rests with hosts England in the remaining two Tests with James Anderson managing to escape without a ban for his Level 3 charge in the Trent Bridge incident.
Anderson was yesterday exonerated by the judicial commission set up by the ICC for allegedly pushing Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja during the first Test in Nottingham that was drawn.
India had then won the second Test at Lord`s by 95 runs, before England levelled the series with a 266-run win in the third Test at Southampton.
"I am not being biased here. Rather I am talking from the series` point-of-view. It is set up so well, with both teams in good nick, batting and bowling well. The score is at 1-1 after three Tests and we have two beautifully set-up matches to look forward to," he said.
"It would have been a shame if Anderson would have been banned as it would have disturbed the balance of the contest between these two sides in the middle of the series," said Harmison.
Anderson has won two man-of-the-match awards in the last three Tests, posing a threat with both bat and ball, and as such, this verdict has probably swung the momentum towards England who were desperate to avoid suspension for their talismanic bowler.
"If Anderson would have been banned, it would have put a lot of pressure on Broad especially with his fitness concerns. But they are both available now, so maybe yes, England do have the upper hand. It adds spice to the remaining series, although we could have done without this distraction. The series is set up to be a humdinger already without external additions," he added.
Talking about the 266-run win for England, their first in 11 Tests stretching back to the home summer of 2013, Harmison said the match could have been fairer if DRS was put in place or indeed closer if India held their chances.
"It was a good Test wicket because it gave a result in five days. It was a classic match in that sense, with one team winning the toss, making a tall score and then applying pressure on the opposition throughout," said Harmison, who has 226 Test wickets to his name.
"There were quite a few wrong decisions in this match and DRS could have made it a fairer contest. But it also didn`t help that India didn`t take their chances and dropped quite a few catches especially of the top-order batsmen who regained form," he added.
Harmison lauded the young pacers but said it was the senior duo of Anderson and Broad who really showed their mettle by bouncing back after the second Test.
"England have bowled okay this summer, but that was their best performance so far. The young lads who have come in Liam Plunkett, Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes they have done decently," he said.
"But the two senior bowlers let themselves down at Lord`s and that happens. Sometimes the ball just doesn`t come out right or you don`t probably feel right, despite that green-top being the best wicket for them, but it happens.
"And it just goes to show what great bowlers they are given how they have bounced back on a flatter track in the third Test. That`s what great bowlers do if they have an indifferent match, they bounce back in the next and Anderson and Broad have now got England back in the series," he added.
The Indian bowling probably weren`t as impressive as they were in the first two Tests but that was more down to the fielding not supporting them. With Alastair Cook and Ian Bell hitting form, it did appear as if the bowling had severe problems.
In fact, debutant Pankaj Singh had bowled well but it didn`t reflect in his figures of 0-179 at the Ageas Bowl.
"That for me is not how you should look at it. (Chris) Woakes went wicket-less too and he was the best English bowler after Anderson in this Test. In time, people will realize there`s more to read than just those figures because with some luck I think he will be quite a handful in the remaining two Tests," he said.
"The captain and coach probably know this and they need to put an arm around the lad and tell him, `You will probably get five wickets next week and might not even bowl as well.` He shouldn`t worry about the record because someone else will break that some day. All he needs to do is enjoy that he has played Test cricket and go do the simple things again, and the rewards will come," Harmison added.